By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Blommer’s old ice cream factory, like the rest of Milwaukee, sports a cream-colored façade. Although the factory has stopped producing ice cream years ago, it remains an iconic landmark and in Aug of 2018, its doors will open once again. This past Wednesday, Evergreen Real Estate Group, LMRC among others participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking in what will soon be Legacy Lofts.
The idea for Legacy Lofts began five years ago under the guiding hand of former LMRC president, Sally Peltz.
She wanted to take the old Blommer factory and transform it into something for the community, but she needed help. So, she began reaching out to community memebers and together they began a journey that lasted longer than they expected.
During her speech, Peltz remarked that if the factory was located in the Third Ward it would’ve been transformed into something magical, but due to its location in Lindsay Heights half of their work was ensuring it wouldn’t be torn down.
“This is not about financial gains,” Peltz said. “It’s about giving back.”
Eventually, Peltz and her team’s perseverance paid off. They received help from the city, US Bank, Continuum architect, Greenfire, Haywood Group and several others who wanted to fund a project that could help the city thrive.
Among those who spoke during the groundbreaking was City Commissioner Rocky Marcoux, and he’s been in favor of the project since the start.
Like Peltz, Marcoux remarked on the time it took to get this project off the ground. It died and was buried a dozen times he said, but it kept coming back, according to him, and this was in part due to the resilience of Lindsay Heights and the team’s passion.
“Everybody understood how important this project was to continue [the] momentum on North Avenue,” Marcoux said.
North Avenue best captures both the highs and the lows of this region including racial divide and class distinction, said Marcoux. For him, North Avenue is the barometer of the region that clearly displays “how well we’re doing as a region.”
“North Avenue is on its way,” he said. “It’s on its way in a big way.”
Alderman Russell Stamper II also gave a speech. Stamper too has been a part of the project since its conception. He recalled several times over the years thinking that this was the moment only for it all to fall through because the numbers didn’t work.
Yet, Stamper never gave up.
“It doesn’t matter how slow we go,” he said. “It matters that we never stop.”
Still, he’s thankful that the project is now underway thanks to the community and the effort and energy of the team.
“We are working together to economically develop, grow and positively change this community,” Stamper said.
He hopes that through the development of projects like the Legacy Lofts, the community can strive to be a clean, safe and healthy place where anyone can succeed.
Larry and Sharon Adams who were part of the HN Development discussed the importance of the City to continue to support projects like this.
Sharon made a valuable statement in which she reminded all those gathered in Blommer’s building that affordable housing is good, but quality housing matters too.
Soon Legacy Lofts will be under construction and is expected to have 64 lofts. Community members believe that this project is just one step on the journey to revitalizing North Avenue and the city of Milwaukee.