Milwaukee Bronzeville Black Cultural and Arts Center Takes Big Step

A major artistic and cultural center focusing on black art, slated for a key location in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Milwaukee, took a big step forward on Wednesday.

The State Building Commission has unanimously approved the sale of the former Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources regional office building, 2300 N. King Drive, to the Bronzeville Center for the Arts.

This non-profit group plans to demolish the former DNR offices and develop a 50,000 square foot arts and culture center in its place. An opening in 2024 is tentatively planned.

The center’s offer to buy the 3.4-acre property for $1.6 million must also be approved by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

But approval from the bipartisan commission, recommended by Governor Tony Evers’ administration, was the first hurdle.

“We thank the State Building Commission for advancing our proposed Tender Offer. Today’s approval was a huge step forward for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts and African American artists, art historians and art lovers in our community, across the state and across the country,” said Kristen Hardy, chair of the group’s board of directors.

“As we seek further approval from the Joint Finance Committee, we are encouraged by the outpouring of support we have received from the community and look forward to continuing to develop a shared vision for a world-class arts and culture center in heart of in the Bronzeville district of Milwaukee,” Hardy said in a statement.

The development would include visual arts exhibits, arts-focused seminars and other educational programs, art workshops and a performing arts space. But these concept plans must be formed with input from the community.

This would be the second such neighborhood development for the Bronzeville Center for the Arts.

Following:A 50,000 square foot arts and culture center focused on black art is planned for a key location in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville neighborhood.

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The group also plans to combine a renovated duplex, at 507 W. North Ave., with a two-story glass addition built next door to create a much smaller facility totaling 6,650 square feet.

This $1.5 million privately financed development will include a gallery, workshop space, band office and small heated kitchen so it can host catered events.

Work on this small project is due to begin this spring.

Both developments are part of a series of upcoming visual arts related projects in Bronzeville and other Milwaukee neighborhoods.

The DNR building has been vacant since the agency moved in 2021 to a new regional office at 1027 W. St. Paul Ave.

The Department of State Administration began seeking offers for the property in October. It has an estimated worth of $1.2 million.

Tom Daykin can be emailed to tdaykin@jrn.com and follow-up instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

James C. Tibbs