As executive director of the nonprofit Martin Luther King Economic Development Corps starting in 2001, Welford Sanders led significant redevelopment efforts on Milwaukee’s King Drive and the surrounding neighborhood. King Drive EDC and Milwaukee in general lost a true visionary and leader when Mr. Sanders passed in 2015. To carry on his legacy and vision for the neighborhood, the non-profit he led is continuing on with one of his last projects that he didn’t live long enough to complete: renovation of the former Nunn Bush Shoe Co.’s factory into mixed use.
The six-story, 190,000 sq ft building, now to be called the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts in Mr. Sanders’ honor, is a $21 million historic renovation that will feature 59 apartments and 38,000 square feet of offices. The building, at 2801-2821 N. 4th St., was constructed in 1916.
To get the project completed, Continuum assisted in securing historic tax credits for the owners, as well as WHEDA credits. Designing around a strict budget and universal housing requirements, supportive housing requirements and historical design limitations, Continuum is able to deliver 59 mixed-income units that are a mix of two- to four-bedroom single-level apartments. Tenants have access to amenities such as individual storage, off-street parking, large unit-wide windows, a community room, a fitness center, a spacious lobby, and a private exterior plaza. A memorial statue of Welford Sanders will be placed in the property’s courtyard. The current phase of renovation and construction on the building started in February 2017 and will be complete in March 2018.
Urban Milwaukee reporter Jeramey Jannene recently toured the project with principal-in-charge, Corey Lapworth, NCARB, AIA, CDT. In an ironic twist of fate, Corey had Mr. Sanders as a professor while studying Urban Planning at UW-Milwaukee. Read the Urban Milwaukee article here. WUWM reporter Susan Bence also took a tour with Corey while the Habitat for Humanity deconstruction unit was at work on the project. Her story can be read and listened to here. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel real estate reporter Tom Daykin recently wrote an excellent, detailed feature article, which can be read here.