Milwaukee affordable housing, Harambee project breaks ground

MILWAUKEE - Five Points Lofts, an affordable housing project in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood, broke ground on Friday, Feb. 9.

Located on King Drive between Concordia and Keefe avenues, the initiative aims to provide quality housing options for individuals and families in the area and positively impact the community.

"This is a great day for Milwaukee and the Harambee neighborhood and another step in the renaissance taking place along Dr. Martin Luther King Drive," Nicole Robbins, executive director of Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, said in a news release.

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The five-story, 55-unit development will be above 7,500 square feet of street-level retail space. Forty-six of the apartments are defined as "affordable," project leaders said, with rents ranging from $474 to $1,191 per month. Vertical construction is expected to begin in summer, with the first tenants moving in by May 2025.

In exchange for receiving federal affordable housing credits to help finance the project, the news release said developers must provide at least 85% of the building’s units at below-market rents to people earning no higher than 60% of the local median income. Nine of the apartments will be rented at market rates.

The project is the result of a collaboration among the King Economic Development Corporation, KG Development Group, the city of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority and Bader Philanthropie.

"This is truly a team effort resulting in quality new housing and retail at the north end of King Drive and the Harambee neighborhood," KG Development Group principal Anthony Kazee said in the release. "We couldn’t have done this without all of our partners."

Kazee also noted the group had to overcome a 20-30% increase in construction costs because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The vacant lots were purchased from the city in 2020 and cover one acre.