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Residents upset about proposal to bring hostel, multi-use space to northwest neighborhood

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some neighbors are not excited about a proposal for a vacant building on the northwest side.

A man says he wants to turn it into a youth hostel.

But neighbors in the area of 90th and Burleigh have a lot of questions about the plan.

Some neighbors found out about the proposed hostel through a Facebook post, but others found a flyer like this one in their mailboxes.

CBS 58 spoke with some neighbors who said they just don’t know enough about the hostel. “At this point, I’m against it.”

“The traffic situation, the parking, the in and out, is it going to be manned? Is it secure? Is he going to have security there, and I believe he said no,” said Trudy Herink who lives right near where the hostel would go.

Neighbors say they also worry about littering and an increase in crime with more people coming and going.

“We’re glad the building has been sold, it’s what he’s going to put in there that we’re not really fully aware of, nothing is real clear,” said Herink.

Many say they still don’t have many details about the proposal, even after speaking with the developer.

“He has no investors; he cannot even start this project until he gets $1.5 million. Nothing concrete or done, it’s just too much dreaming at this point.”

One neighbor showed us plans for the hostel they got at a meeting on Monday.

It includes shared bathrooms, working spaces, a convenience store, and even a medical practice space.

“Absolutely against it. 100% against it,” said another neighbor Julie Shanahan.

Neighbors also want to know more about how this whole thing will be paid for.

“There’s a lot of questions about who are you, and how legitimate are you really going to be with your programs,” said Shanahan, concerned about the effect the hostel would have on her neighborhood.

The  developer sent a statement to CBS 58 News which said in part:

I am excited at the opportunity to present the proposed redevelopment of this property to the public.

I conducted a public tour of the property a dew days ago on Monday, June 10th 2019 explaining the redevelopment plan. This tour was attended by neighbors, Alderwoman Dodd (the 5th District Alderperson) and Mr Kenneth F. Little (the Neighborhood Business Development Manager of the City of Milwaukee).

Two more public tours of the property are scheduled for Mondays, June 17th and 24th 2019. The public is invited to attend these tours. Alderwoman Dodd has indicated she shall be available for these tours and an official from the Department of City Development is also scheduled to be present. These tours shall occur on the designated days at 7pm at 9000 W Burleigh St, Milwaukee WI 53222.

I shall now specifically address the concerns of the neighbors interviewed.

On the Appropriateness of a Hostel in the Neighborhood

The property at 9000 W Burleigh St is located in a commercial type district specifically a Local Business 2 (LB2) district. 9000 W Burleigh St has an LB2 zoning. The current zoning code already allows for the placement of a hostel in the neighborhood and for 9000 W Burleigh St to be used as a hostel. I shall need no variance from current zoning code for the location of a hostel in this property.

The City of Milwaukee has in the past approved a property located in a Local Business 2 (LB2) zoning district with a Local Business 2 (LB2) zoning designation to operate as a hostel. I'm excited that Milwaukee's first hostel - the Cream City Hostel shall begin operations in a few weeks. Kudos to the development team!

Some neighbors have confused my proposed hostel development for a rooming house for transients and druggies. Some have specifically referred to it as a brothel. With such perspectives, it is easy to see why some neighbors think a hostel will lead to increased crime in the neighborhood. However, these views are factually inaccurate. Hostels largely attract international youth travelers seeking to explore the world. I know this for a fact because I have been and still am such a youth. I have stayed in hostels located in several cities in Europe and North America and I have never encountered one run as a brothel or rooming house. The location of a hostel in the 5th aldermanic district of Milwaukee shall add vibrancy to the neighborhood.

Of course, security features are included in the structural and operational design of the proposed hostel to counter a misinformation presented by one of the neighbors interviewed. I will be happy to discuss the security features in an interview.

On Parking

A neighbor expressed concern about parking. As far as I am aware, the project is already providing the number of car parking spots required code for the project. Also, the property is located less than a minute walk from two bus stops. In addition, we shall be providing bike racks at the start of operations and eventually bike rental services in the future.

On Financing for the Project

A neighbor interviewed gave the misinformation that financing for the project was not sorted out. As it is to be expected, my ability to comment on financing is more restricted than on other aspects of the project. However, I can state this: I have received conventional financing approval for the redevelopment of the property contingent on the after-renovation appraisal value. An after-renovation appraisal value for the property is being determined at this time. An appraiser has already visited the property as part of the appraisal process. Closing on the financing is anticipated shortly after an after-renovation appraisal value is produced.

I look forward to answering any questions and addressing all concerns you may have about this redevelopment project.



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