Thursday, June 19, 2014

Esperanza Unida International Building Sold For $1.3M

Four member Esperanza Unida Board accepted offer before deadline on Wednesday from Milwaukee apartment developer to buy the Esperanza Unida International building for $1.3M to help pay incurred debts.

By H. Nelson Goodson
June 19, 2014

Milwaukee, WI -  On Thursday, Manuel "Manny" Pérez, the executive director of Esperanza Unida, Inc. confirmed, that the current four members of the Board from the non-profit organization had accepted a $1.3 million offer from a local developer to purchase the building and property at 611 W. National Ave. Pérez said, that most of the 20 tenants have until December 31, before the developer will begin making the transition to acquire the property.
The developer will convert the Esperanza Unida International Building into a $7 million development project to create a 55 apartment unit complex and will keep some businesses on the first floor, according to Pérez.
The Esperanza Unida organization will continue to operate at 1329 W. National Ave., where they own a second property.
The current Esperanza Unida Board members are Steed Welch, Chair; James "Jim" Witkowiak, Vice-Chair; Susan Pepper-Sims and Tamara Owens. The Board has three vacant seats, according to Pérez.
Pérez stated, that the Esperanza Unida building was not listed to be sold, but a week ago, the developer made an offer and gave the Esperanza Unida Board until Wednesday to accept the $1.3M offer. The Board couldn't refuse the offer, since it has been on debt and facing a $1.3M deficit. 
Last year, Esperanza Unida ended with $495,000 in gross revenue and for 2014, Pérez projected about $900,000 in gross revenue. But in terms of net income, Esperanza owes $50,000 to CD, it owes $388,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and $70,000 to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) employment insurance. He also confirmed that several "inappropriate loans were made during former Richard Oulahan (1978 to 2005) or right after, which a $600,000 loan from M&I Bank was made before former executive director Robert F. Miranda (2005 to 2014) took over, also a loan from Wells Fargo of $100,000 was made and we have no idea where it is. So, the total debt for Esperanza Unida is beteen $1.2 to $1.3 million," according to Pérez.
Today, about $700,000 in loans has not been able to be accounted for or no records exist for its disbursement and it has been reported to the Federal Economic Development Authority,  Pérez said.
Esperanza Unida rent space was previously valued at $6.50 per square foot during the Oulahan administration and later increased to $8.25 and remained steady for decades. The city recommended $10.00 per square foot and Esperanza Unida remained at $8.25. New tenants rented space at $12.25 per square foot, since Pérez took over. Pérez also said, that Esperanza Unida had a history of being an incubator for helping businesses grow and prosper, but the low rent never generated revenue to cover the costs of maintaining and operating the building.
If the building would have been listed for sale last year, it wouldn't have been sold for more than $800,000. Today, the Board made at least $500,000 more due to current repair maintenance and improvements conducted under Pérez. The $1.3M from the purchase will go to pay over due city taxes, the IRS debt, DWD, several loans and other bills incurred by previous administrations.
Pérez, who would not disclose the name of the developer says, the purchase by the developer will "generate construction jobs, attract community activity and stimulate economic growth." There has been no new development on S. 6th Street or vicinity since, Alderman José G. Pérez was elected, which have kept rent values low. With the lack of any new development, many buildings are under valued in the area, according to city tax records.
José G. Pérez before becoming Alderman in the 12th District had made an offer to a former Board member to purchase the Esperanza Unida building, but no offer amount by made available.

Esperanza Unida, Inc. Board of Directors

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