By Lynda Jones
The Sherman Park Senior Living Community, 3245 N. 37th Street, held an Opening Day Celebration Wed., May 29. The 68- unit apartment building is the former home of Jackie Robinson Middle School.
“This development revitalizes a historic five-acre parcel in the heart of the historic Sherman Park neighborhood with a multi-generational campus including 68 senior apartments and 11 new single-family homes along Concordia Ave,” said Ted Matkom, Wisconsin Market president for Gorman.
Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) sold the school to Gorman & Company, the Oregon-based developer, to create affordable housing for the neighborhood’s senior citizens. In 2010, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority allocated low-income housing tax credits to Gorman. Alliant Capital purchased these tax credits along with the historic tax credits generated by the project. Chase and IMPACT provided the construction and permanent financing.
“A safe and secure place to live is part of the American dream, but sometimes that dream can be a challenge for our senior citizens,” said Jim Popp, president of Chase Middle Market in Wisconsin and Minnesota. “Chase is very proud to be a part of this important project that is revitalizing the city and providing affordable housing and a community for our senior population.”
The school is one of four MPS buildings sold in recent years and the only one used for a purpose other than a school.
“The senior residents in the old Jackie Robinson School love the art-filled hallways and having an opportunity to continue to live in the Sherman Park neighborhood where they spent a majority of their lives,” said Matkom.
Built in 1926 as Peckham Junior High School, the building remains an architectural gem of the city’s Sherman Park neighborhood.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said that he remembers when the school was known as Peckham Junior High. And many of the residents who attended the opening shared in his memory.
Alderman Willie Wade, whose district is the proud neighborhood for the facility said that this project was accomplished through a complete team effort. “In the spirit of the legendary Jackie Robinson himself, this was a successful project due to team work, and I am so proud to have been a part of this team. There were many people to please, the Sherman Park Neighborhood Association, the City of Milwaukee, WHEDA, who came in and provided necessary capital to complete the project, along with Chase Bank and Gorman & Company, a company that gets the job done. And of course MPS who agreed to sell the building.
MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton also expressed his thoughts regarding the project. He stated how proud he was as well to be a part of this team effort and also expressed gratitude for the Jackie Robinson name remaining on the building. He also shared, “Well, now that this project is completed and occupied I can finally stop receiving calls from parents asking when can they register their child for the Jackie Robinson School.”
Wyman Winston, executive director of WHEDA, said that the 7th District neighborhood and its seniors deserved a first class place to live, and this is what this senior living community provides. “Not the best affordable housing available, but the best housing available period”. he said.
Amenities for residents include a fitness center, community room/library, business center, beauty salon, nurses office and a craft room. And as a tribute to the Sherman Park neighborhood, Milwaukee based Spolar Studios was commissioned to enhance all the common spaces with unique art pieces from the past.