FOX6 News learns more about sale of former Malcolm X building

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- During a meeting on Monday night, October 14th with the city of Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors voted to authorize the administration to ask the city to sell the vacant Malcolm X Academy building to 2760 Holdings LLC for $2.1 million -- and part of the deal allows Milwaukee Public Schools to lease it back.

FOX6 News has learned more about the terms and conditions under which the building will be sold.

Additionally, FOX6 News has learned 2760 Holdings LLC is a company comprised of two main partners.

This deal comes with some very specific terms that may have ousted St. Marcus Lutheran School from the running in the very beginning.

St. Marcus had expressed interest in purchasing the former Malcolm X Academy building in order to expand St. Marcus -- which is currently at capacity.

The decision to sell seemed to have been decided within minutes on Monday night, but MPS' vision for the vacant building was there for some time.

"We actually received feedback from the community and the community said it wanted a community center there, so what we`re doing is responding to what the community asked for," MPS spokeswoman Denise Callaway said.

Callaway says since 2012, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors talked about plans to turn Malcolm X and other facilities into community centers. Callaway says 2760 Holdings LLC, which is a partnership between James Phelps -- co-owner of JCP Construction and Dennis Klein -- chairman of KBS Construction had intentions inline with MPS' plans for the building.

"We're taking a look at a multi-use community center that has an option to also have an MPS educational component in it as well. So we`ll be looking at working at the district level and also with the organization that the building will be sold to about making decisions of what will be in there," Callaway said.

Although the building is being sold for $2.1 million, a lease back is part of the agreement. MPS will pay $1 million a year to the buyer.

Callaway says the term is actually an advantage for MPS -- seeing how 2760 Holdings LLC is upgrading the facility so MPS can fulfill the community's needs.

However, Monday night's decision comes as a blow to St. Marcus Superintendent Henry Tyson.

"We feel like it`s a really disappointing decision on the part of MPS. They`ve essentially said 'no' to one of e highest performing schools in the city -- ready and willing to open another campus in a building they`ve allowed to sit vacant for six years," Tyson said.

Tyson, along with others feel as though the process is coming along hastily.

"We weren`t surprised by the brevity. There`s almost been no public discussion. We're looking for a fair chance to lay out our plan and for the governing bodies to be able to look at them in an open way and that just hasn`t happened," Tyson said.

Meanwhile, critics interpret MPS' actions as trying to act before Senate bill 318 gets passed. If made into law, it can allow an underused eligible school building to be purchased by an education operator which includes private school -- and if the building qualifies as an eligible school building for 28 consecutive months, any person may submit a letter of interest to the Common Council.

MPS disputes the hurried accusations, saying the plans for Malcolm X Academy have been in the making since 2012 -- well before the bill was introduced.

As the bill waits to potentially become law, Common Council President Willie Hines says the city should have local control.

"They are going to do what they`re going to do. We're doing what we deem is in the best interest of the city. We hope in the spirit of cooperation they will work with us instead of taking decisions out of hands of local municipalities," Hines said.

Hines says the City Attorney is reviewing the terms sheet and then the sale will be scheduled to the appropriate committees.

State Senator Alberta Darling, who authored Senate Bill 318 issued a statement Tuesday about the sale.

She believes MPS quickly pushed the real estate deal through to prevent kids from receiving a quality education in their own neighborhood.

The full Senate still has to vote on the state measure.

1 Comment

  • ruth Kuehn

    I thought MPS’s mission was – It’s about the kids. Well, if this is about the kids and not the teachers and their union, why are they making it so difficult for kids in the inner city to get a quality education? Seems like MPS and their union can’t get it together, but St Martin’s seems to do a fantastic job. Who’s kidding who here?

Comments are closed.