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A Chicago-based project management company will oversee construction of a new city hall, one of the key first steps of Mayor John Antaramian’s proposed $400 million Downtown Vision Project.

Newmark Knight Frank is expected to take the lead in relocating Kenosha’s city hall from 625 52nd St. to the corner of Sheridan Road and 56th Street. The company’s contract was approved this week by the common council.

“I want to make sure we’re very responsible and accountable for our taxpayer’s dollars,” city administrator Randy Hernandez said. “I want to make sure we do a building that is very sustainable. (Newmark) is not a design or engineering firm or developer or a (general contractor). This is purely a company that is going to work on behalf of the city from an optimization of cost, construction, timeline and budget maintenance.”

Downtown Vision is a massive, eight-square block (25 acres) redevelopment to include a new city hall, performing arts center, public park and hundreds of private residences. Newmark Knight Frank will serve as the “single point of contact” for redevelopment of Block E, a 1.51-acre parcel that will hold a new 80,000-square foot city hall and a 300-space public parking ramp.

In a letter to the city, Newmark Night Frank managing director Paul Wojdyla said his team is “uniquely qualified to provide the required, integrated services to Kenosha based on best-suited practices, procedures, processes and overall project deployment governance policies.”

Wojdyla added: “We intend to provide a balance of strategy and thought leadership with tactical excellence that will support the goals of the real estate initiative and the overall municipal need.”

Razing current building

The building presently located at the site of the new city hall is scheduled to be razed as soon as its occupants find a new home, according to Zohrab Khaligian, a city redevelopment specialist for Community Development and Inspections. It housed the original Kenosha Police Department and most recently the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and the Kenosha Public Library’s Administration and Support Center.

“I know the library director and the mayor have been going back and forth on finding a new location,” Khaligian said. “My mandate is, I need to tear it down. I can’t tear it down until they’re out.”

Once occupants are relocated, the city can send out bids for the demolition project and conduct testing for asbestos and other hazardous materials. The project could be pushed back until early spring, according to Khaligian.

“I can’t just turn it around the next day,” Khaligian said. “I need an empty building before I can have someone go in there and start poking holes.”

The city recently established an overlapping Tax Incremental Financing District at the epicenter of the Downtown Vision Project from 52nd Street and Sheridan Road to the corner of 55th Street and Sixth Avenue.

Additional projects

Once the site of the new city hall is leveled and construction begins in 2020, the current city hall will be replaced with a new public park and performing arts center. One of three new downtown parking structures is slated at the corner of 52nd Street and Sheridan Road, with luxury, high-rise condominiums planned along 54th Street from Eighth Avenue to Fifth Avenue.

The project could include over 1,000 residential units, approximately 2½ times the amount of housing constructed in HarborPark.

In February, the city closed on a $1.6 million purchase of three downtown properties located at 5407 Eighth Ave. and 700 55th St., and an attached parcel — previously owned by Kenosha Human Development Services Inc.

The three parking structures are planned to accommodate downtown residents, employees and visitors.

A five-story, 331-spot ramp slated just east of the Kenosha Post Office on Eighth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets was sent out for rebidding when estimates came in roughly $1 million over its $8.5 million budget.

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