Potawatomi completes renovation of fifth building on Wgema Campus

Newly restored Wgemas Building features commercial kitchen, office space

Renovation work has been completed on a fifth building on the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Wgema Campus on Milwaukee’s Near West Side.

On Wednesdays tribal officials, along with the city, Potawatomi Business Development Corp. and Greenfire Management Services LLC, marked completion of renovations to the Wgemas Building at 944 E. 33rd St. This is the latest building to be renovated on the former Concordia College campus.

“When we go home as leadership, my whole council wants to make sure that Milwaukee knows that the Potawatomis are here,” Forest County Potawatomi chairman Ned Daniels Jr. said during a ceremony Wednesday morning inside the newly renovated building. “We try to be the best partners we can in Milwaukee.”

The three-story building was fully renovated for $9 million, and took just over a year to complete. It features a cafeteria and commercial kitchen on the first floor, and houses the Indian Council of the Elderly’s All Nations Senior and Cultural Center, the United Indians of Milwaukee and Lisa Kaye Catering. Lisa Kaye Catering, in fact, had its soft opening in the building last week.

The building also has roughly 10,000 square feet of space available for prospective office users, with most of that space located on the nearly 8,600-square-foot top floor and the remaining space on its garden level.

Kip Ritchie, president of Greenfire, said the upper-floor office space has been cleared out in preparation for an eventual tenant. He said his group is open to who that tenant could be, though he suggested a non-profit group might fit in well with the other users on the campus.

“Right now it’s pretty open and just sort of a blank canvas to see what organization might be interested in it,” he said.

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The Potawatomi tribe has owned the Wgema campus since 1990, after Concordia moved from there to Mequon in 1983. Work to redevelop the campus commenced in 2010, starting with the Bgemagen Building that now houses Potawatomi Business Development Corp., Greenfire and the administrative offices of the Milwaukee Police Department.

The Woodlands East charter school began leasing the Nengos Building in 2013. Then in 2016, renovation of the Wgechda Building was finished, which provides 48,000 square feet of office and commercial space that’s now at capacity. Various tribal administrative offices are located there, including its foundation, legal, executive council and gaming commission.

The Wgechda Building, in fact, is actually two buildings that were combined into one with the construction of an atrium.

Next to the campus is the new Data Holdings Center and a two-story parking structure.

Ritchie said the Tthigwe Building will be the next project tackled on campus. The work will include renovations to the gymnasium and demolition of the attached pool. The area of the former pool will be used as surface parking but will eventually be developed into something else, though there are no specific plans yet for it.

Also nearby is the green space where the school’s track was formerly located. Next door to that is an apartment complex that Potawatomi purchased earlier this year and will soon demolish. That whole area will also be redeveloped eventually, said Ritchie.

“Hopefully within the next couple years we’ll have more direction” on what might be developed there, he said.

Renovation work has been completed on a fifth building on the Forest County Potawatomi Community’s Wgema Campus on Milwaukee’s Near West Side.

On Wednesdays tribal officials, along with the city, Potawatomi Business Development Corp. and Greenfire Management Services LLC, marked completion of renovations to the Wgemas Building at 944 E. 33rd St. This is the latest building to be renovated on the former Concordia College campus.

“When we go home as leadership, my whole council wants to make sure that Milwaukee knows that the Potawatomis are here,” Forest County Potawatomi chairman Ned Daniels Jr. said during a ceremony Wednesday morning inside the newly renovated building. “We try to be the best partners we can in Milwaukee.”

The three-story building was fully renovated for $9 million, and took just over a year to complete. It features a cafeteria and commercial kitchen on the first floor, and houses the Indian Council of the Elderly’s All Nations Senior and Cultural Center, the United Indians of Milwaukee and Lisa Kaye Catering. Lisa Kaye Catering, in fact, had its soft opening in the building last week.

The building also has roughly 10,000 square feet of space available for prospective office users, with most of that space located on the nearly 8,600-square-foot top floor and the remaining space on its garden level.

Kip Ritchie, president of Greenfire, said the upper-floor office space has been cleared out in preparation for an eventual tenant. He said his group is open to who that tenant could be, though he suggested a non-profit group might fit in well with the other users on the campus.

“Right now it’s pretty open and just sort of a blank canvas to see what organization might be interested in it,” he said.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Potawatomi tribe has owned the Wgema campus since 1990, after Concordia moved from there to Mequon in 1983. Work to redevelop the campus commenced in 2010, starting with the Bgemagen Building that now houses Potawatomi Business Development Corp., Greenfire and the administrative offices of the Milwaukee Police Department.

The Woodlands East charter school began leasing the Nengos Building in 2013. Then in 2016, renovation of the Wgechda Building was finished, which provides 48,000 square feet of office and commercial space that’s now at capacity. Various tribal administrative offices are located there, including its foundation, legal, executive council and gaming commission.

The Wgechda Building, in fact, is actually two buildings that were combined into one with the construction of an atrium.

Next to the campus is the new Data Holdings Center and a two-story parking structure.

Ritchie said the Tthigwe Building will be the next project tackled on campus. The work will include renovations to the gymnasium and demolition of the attached pool. The area of the former pool will be used as surface parking but will eventually be developed into something else, though there are no specific plans yet for it.

Also nearby is the green space where the school’s track was formerly located. Next door to that is an apartment complex that Potawatomi purchased earlier this year and will soon demolish. That whole area will also be redeveloped eventually, said Ritchie.

“Hopefully within the next couple years we’ll have more direction” on what might be developed there, he said.

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