When Franklin Square, the latest development revitalizing urban Milwaukee, opens this summer it will mark the addition of needed workforce housing, as well as further a unique partnership between a well-established developer and an up-and-coming Milwaukee entrepreneur.
Less than five years ago, Chicago’s Brinshore Development, located in Northbrook, IL, began collaboration with Melissa Goins, the Founder and President of Maures LLC in Milwaukee. Together, the two real estate development firms are working to breathe new life into urban Milwaukee and eventually beyond. Franklin Square, which will have its grand opening this June, will be the second property built by the Maures and Brinshore partnership.
Maures is the brainchild of local entrepreneur Melissa Goins, who says she has always had a passionate commitment to making life better in the Milwaukee communities where she grew up, but didn’t always have the tools to turn her visionary improvements into reality. In 2006, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), Wisconsin’s Housing Finance Agency, selected Goins to participate in its Mentor Protégé Program, which pairs emerging real estate development businesses owned by people of color with established developers.
Within a year, Goins’ Maures Development LLC had become the first for-profit woman and minority owned firm to receive an allocation of Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) in the program’s history and the firm was on its way to building three new developments in less than five years.
Maures’ secret to success in one of the toughest real estate development markets in history? Mentorship from Brinshore Development.
“She was putting together the deals,” recalls Brinshore President Richard Sciortino, “and we brought in our relationships on the financing side.”
Their work began on the corner of Teutonia Ave and Center Street in Milwaukee. Goins eyed a parcel of land – a defunct barbershop — that was in need of repurposing. With the blessing property’s owners, Goins went to the City with a plan to redevelop the entire block. Maures and Brinshore’s first development, Teutonia Gardens, began construction in 2006 and closed in 2008, with 24 units of two and three bedroom apartments.
Eager to keep the momentum going, Goins presented Brinshore with a strategic plan including a second phase of Teutonia Gardens to be called Franklin Square and another project, Heart & Hope Place, located in Harambee.
All three properties are in urban Milwaukee, an area that is close to Goins’ heart. “We’re trying to revitalize neighborhoods and bring back pride and hope to people,” she said.
Heart & Hope Place opened in December of 2010 with 24 units of two and three bedroom apartments.
The most recent development, Franklin Square, will celebrate its grand opening this June. Comprised of 37 units of both apartments and townhomes, Franklin Square also features one acre of green space for its residents as well as art work throughout the property. Maures brought in Art Works, an organization in Milwaukee dedicated to involving youth in community activities by encouraging their artistic creativity.
Another project, Century City, in the Sherman Park neighborhood, is set to begin construction soon, bringing another 37 units of apartments and townhomes to the city.
Goins has always been very hands-on with each of her developments and plans to continue to do so. Her offices are currently in the process of moving into the first floor of the Franklin Square development in order to be closer to the project that Goins built. She also plans to make art work for each building a standard going forward.
Goins plans on one day expanding outside of Milwaukee, but for now she is happy with serving the community in which she was raised. “Growing up in this area, I saw a lot of despair,” said Goins, “Now we’re able to give people a reason to hope for something better.”
Her Chicago-based partners say they’d love to keep working with Goins, but with her talent and drive, “It won’t be long before she doesn’t need us anymore.”
Franklin Square will hold its grand opening celebration in June.