YMCA site in far northwest Milwaukee could become apartments

A YMCA property in far northwest Milwaukee would be redeveloped to initially include nearly 400 apartments under a new proposal.

The plan of Royal Capital Group Ltd. for the 52-acre property, located east of North Swan Road and south of West Fairy Chasm Road, could potentially bring in an investment of $200 million.

This would total more than 1,100 affordable and market-priced units, some of which are offered for sale.

The company presented its plans on Wednesday to the Granville Advisory Committee, which advises the City Council on development proposals in the Granville area. The committee voted in favor of the development proposal.

Royal Capital, which bought the property in 2021 for $1.5 million, wants to develop the site in phases.

The development is called the Cudahy Farms Healthy Living Campus. It’s a nod to its past before the John C. Cudahy Foundation donated the site in 1999 to the YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee Inc., which sold it last year to Royal Capital.

The first phase provides for 377 apartments in 15 two-storey buildings. This includes 153 units reserved for seniors who can live independently.

Future phases would include homes for sale, said Terrell Walter, director of development at Royal Capital.

The idea would be for people who rent in the development to make a “natural transition” to buying homes there, Walter told committee members.

Long-term plans for the development call for 1,157 homes, of which 733 are for the elderly.

Royal Capital also plans to use the site’s YMCA Northwest Early Childhood Education Center, 9050 N. Swan Road, as a community center.

The Early Childhood Education Center is housed in the building under a 10-year lease with the YMCA.

Royal Capital also wants to add services such as a dental practice, ophthalmologist and on-site property management office to this building.

Other amenities planned for the larger development site include a toboggan hill, updates to the existing playing field, pickleball courts, putting greens and golf simulators.

In addition, the site’s existing walking paths and baseball diamond will be incorporated into the development.

The baseball field also continues to host the YMCA’s Miracle League of Milwaukee, a universally accessible baseball league for children with physical and mental disabilities.

Royal Capital’s plans also call for a food hall including a demonstration kitchen; a health and wellness center; a neighborhood business center that includes meeting space and a manufacturing space that includes a carpentry shop, 3D printing, and audiovisual equipment.

The Cudahy Farms Healthy Living Campus must create a place focused on healthy living, said Kevin Newell, Managing Director of Royal Capital.

The Cudahy Farms Healthy Living Campus would include green spaces, walking paths and other amenities designed to encourage healthy living.

It’s a big selling point for potential residents, said Tom Joy of Engberg Anderson Architects, the project’s architect.

“They want activity,” Joy said.

The site layout includes green spaces that could be used for events such as a food truck night, a craft market and live music, he said.

Building designs use different materials to provide a varied look, Joy said.

Additionally, each apartment will have its own street-level entrance, Walter said.

Newell said Royal Capital would seek additional tax financing district to help pay for the development – a tactic used by other affordable housing developers across Wisconsin.

The funding district, which would require City Council approval, would generate cash from property tax revenues from the development.

Newell also advocated for increased financial support from local private investors.

He said 98% of the capital raised by the company for its developments comes from outside Wisconsin, with money provided by investors in Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles and other cities.

“We literally have to raise capital and bring it back to our neighborhoods,” Newell said.

Royal Capital’s developments include the conversion of the former Phillis Wheatley Elementary School, 2442 N. 20th St., into apartments, and the redevelopment of the former Schuster Department Store, 2153 N. King Drive, into ThriveOn King, which will include apartments, offices, research space and community programs.

Tom Daykin can be emailed at tdaykin@jrn.com and followed on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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