Strauss Brands announces ‘we are no longer pursuing relocation to Century City’

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MILWAUKEE -- There will be no Strauss Brands LLC. slaughterhouse in Milwaukee's Century City business park, as Strauss officials on Monday, Oct. 21 announced, "We are no longer pursuing relocation to Century City."

Below is the statement from Strauss:

"It was our hope that Strauss Brands' move to Milwaukee’s Century City neighborhood would have created jobs, provided an economic boost, and inspired other businesses to follow suit.  We honor and respect the opinions of the community and don’t want to make our home in a place where our presence would not be seen as a benefit. We are no longer pursuing relocation to Century City."

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

"Am I disappointed by the announcement by Strauss?" said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. "Of course I'm disappointed because Strauss was moving there for all the right reasons. It's beyond unfortunate that there was misinformation about the impact on the surrounding neighborhoods, about the nature of the jobs."

Alderman Bob Bauman, one of those who initially raised questions and concerns about the project said it was no surprise it didn't work out.

"I think the project was mishandled from the start by the administration," said Alderman Bauman. "They should have been honest with people. They should have gone into the community and said upfront, 'This is what it's going to be, and this is what's going to happen there.'"

Alderman Bob Bauman

Alderman Bob Bauman

"This was done right along plan," said Mayor Barrett. "There was not a single thing that was done -- that is completely false, and that's part of the false information narrative that was out there."

Barrett added despite the setback, he would continue working to get the Century City site occupied by a company who will employ Milwaukee residents.

Heading into the weekend, Milwaukee Alderman Khalif Rainey changed his position regarding a proposed slaughterhouse in Milwaukee's Century City Business Park following "an overwhelming response from neighbors in opposition to the project."

Alderman Khalif Rainey

Alderman Khalif Rainey

Alderman Rainey issued this statement Friday, Oct. 18:

"As representative of the 7th Aldermanic District, my number one priority is to always reflect the interests and desires of those I serve. When the administration initially brought the Strauss meat processing plant proposal forward, I considered the prospect of bringing 250 jobs to Century City, with more to follow. However, in the 72-hour period since the Common Council considered the proposal I have received an overwhelming response from neighbors in opposition to the project.

I have long been a supporter of the Century City development, and believe it represents an opportunity to align the city’s north side with the economic drivers of the future, not those of our past. In keeping true to the vision of Century City, and standing for the interests of the people in the neighborhood, I do not believe the Strauss meat processing plant is a good utilization of thatspace. I am listening to the voices in my community, and I expect the administration to do the same and withdraw their push for this proposal. I will also be asking the same of my colleagues, to support the will of my constituents. We will remain diligent and patient when it comes to creating a Century City that reflects the vision we as a community hope to  achieve with this opportunity.

I want to thank all of the residents who took the time to make sure their voices were heard and Strauss for their interest in investing in Milwaukee. I look forward to continuing the discussion around this project and the future of Century City."

Protesters speak out against Strauss Brands slaughterhouse at Century CityOn Tuesday, Oct. 15, protesters filled City Hall ahead of a Common Council meeting to approve construction. During that meeting, Rainey, who represents the area where the plant would be located, said he didn't believe these protesters represented his neighbors or understood what those new jobs would mean for them.

"When you talk about trauma and PTSD, these things exist in our community, and I don't hear from you all when it's going on on a daily basis," said Rainey.

City leaders announced in September that Strauss planned to build a 175,000 square foot headquarters and meat processing operation in the city-owned industrial park. Protesters Tuesday said they only recently learned the facility would include a slaughterhouse.

Protesters speak out against Strauss Brands slaughterhouse at Century City

Alderman Bob Bauman agreed.

"I would move item 61 and 62 back to committee," said Alderman Bauman.

Bauman, who sits on the committee overseeing the sale, told the Common Council it was clear at the last committee meeting the public didn't know enough.

"There was nobody there," said Bauman. "No citizens in support. No opposition. It was essentially an empty room."

Bauman issued a statement Monday before the announcement from Strauss that said the Redevelopment Authority's decision to change the Century City redevelopment plan to allow the slaughterhouse proposed by Strauss was a "terribly misguided decision."

Protesters speak out against Strauss Brands slaughterhouse at Century City

Below is Alderman Bauman's Monday statement:

"In 2005 the Barrett administration proposed and the Council unanimously approved a redevelopment plan for Century City. Among others, that plan prohibited several types of land uses and businesses from locating at Century City. Among those prohibited uses were those businesses defined by the city zoning code as “manufacturing intensive.” Several specific businesses were defined as manufacturing intensive. They are:

Animal or poultry slaughter or auction facility

Leather tannery

Distillery of products for finishes

Explosive manufacturer

Sawmill

Paper or pulp mill

Steel mill

Petroleum refinery

Petrochemical plant

Ore smelting facility

Last week the Redevelopment Authority (“RACM”) changed that redevelopment plan to allow a slaughter house at Century City proposed by Strauss Brands. This is a terribly misguided decision.

The original redevelopment plan was correct in prohibiting slaughter houses at a site surrounded by dense residential neighborhoods. The plan was also correct in prohibiting businesses that have a history of locating in low-income African American neighborhoods because such neighborhoods have historically lacked the political clout to keep them out. The plan correctly observed that no one wants to live near a slaughter house -- or chemical plant or oil refinery or pulp mill or tannery.

The RACM amendment now allows slaughter houses, chemical plants, oil refineries, and steel mills (among others) to locate at Century City.

Moreover, the error of this decision is magnified by the fact that the final decision on any specific business relocation is left up to the Board of Zoning Appeals (“BOZA”) under the zoning code -- an unelected body of seven citizens appointed by the Mayor -- rather than the elected Common Council. This is blatantly anti-democratic and effectively disenfranchises the 40,000 citizens we each represent from being heard on such important decisions.

I urge my Council colleagues to reject this amendment of the redevelopment plan for Century City."

Critics say slaughterhouses are bad for the environment. Some worried the odor coming from the facility would impact nearby neighborhoods.

Strauss Brands LLC., based in Franklin, is a leading producer of specialty meats, including American grass-fed and organic beef, as well as veal and lamb. Strauss supplies a mix of retail and foodservice customers throughout the United States.

Initially, the Strauss Brands move to Century City was expected to provide 250 jobs.

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