WisBusiness: Milwaukee County Board advances Park East development
By Miranda Rosenkranz
Despite objections from a local union, the Milwaukee County Board voted 16-2 Thursday to allow the Park East Square development in downtown Milwaukee to move forward with Stewart Wangard as the new lead partner.
The project has been held up since 2007 after the original lead developer purchased the lot from the county but could not secure the necessary financing for construction. The development will include apartments, retail space and parking on a lot made available when the Park East freeway was demolished.
Service Employees International Union Local 1 opposed the move because Wangard replaced 11 Regency Janitorial employees at his office building with non-union janitors.
According Wangard, this was not due to a money concern but because of performance issues the union refused to resolve.
SEIU Vice President Pete Hanrahan said the union wanted the project delayed. The Economic and Community Development committee approved it during a special meeting Tuesday after voting last week to delay the project.
According to Hanrahan the issue is not over the development but over who is in charge of the project.
“We are looking for responsible building owners who pay decent wages and provide benefits,” he said.
Supv. John Weishan also said he was displeased that the delay was reversed at Tuesday’s meeting, as he wanted time for the SEIU to work out its disagreements with Wangard.
“Instead of that happening, we get the ugly side of politics,” Weishan said. “Phone calls were made and people flipped their votes.”
Other building trades unions were on board with the decision to move forward on the development project, according to Supv. Joe Sanfelippo.
“I strongly support this because we have been begging developers to come along,” he said. “This project will cost $30 million total and [the developers] did not ask the county for one dime. They are creating hundreds of good paying construction jobs and many long-term service jobs.”
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is expected to approve the project.