Thursday, September 11, 2014

Milwaukee City Treasurer's Office Files Foreclosure Against Southside Esperanza Unida Property

Esperanza Board must pay at least 2012 and 2011 delinquent taxes by November 19 or city will move forward to foreclose the 611 W. National Ave. Property.

By H. Nelson Goodson
September 11, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - On Wednesday,  the City of Milwaukee Treasurer's Office filed a foreclosure action against Esperanza Unida, Incorp. for delinquent taxes to the city. Spencer Coggs, the City Treasurer couldn't be reached for comment, but his assistant confirmed to Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) that the Treasurer's Office had filed a foreclosure action against the Esperanza Unida, 611 W. National Ave. property. 
The 611 property is assessed at $1,948,000, but owes delinquent taxes for 2013, $66,556.24; for 2012, $64,103.63 and for 2011, $46,111.73, a total of $176,771.60, plus incurring tax delinquent penalties per month. The Treasurer's Office says, Esperanza Unida has a redemption period of November 19, which the Esperanza Board has to pay at least $110,215.36 for delinquent taxes for both 2011 and 2012 to forgo foreclosure. 
When contacted on Tuesday, Manuel Pérez, the executive director of Esperanza Unida told HNNUSA that Coggs, the City Treasurer knows of the $1.3M purchase offer by an Oshkosh developer. The Oshkosh developer is planning to invest more than $7M to convert the 611 building into a 55-unit apartment complex.
Why would the city move on a foreclosure when there is a bona fide offer by a developer to purchase the building for $1.3M, which would create jobs and tax revenue for the city?, Manuel questioned.
The Treasurer's Office said, that they don't wait until a property is sold by its owner to pay delinquent taxes. Delinquent taxes owed to the city must be paid and the Treasurer's Office files for foreclosure when they are not paid. 
The city foreclosure action was made public on Tuesday by Alderman José Pérez during a Licenses Committee hearing for a Class-B Tavern liquor license for Reynas Events at the 611 building. Ald. Pérez opposed the issuing of the liquor license to Reynas Events because he questioned the ownership of the 611 building. The property at 611 W. National Ave. is delinquent on taxes, but the property and building is owned by the Esperanza Unida Board. 
Ald. Pérez also notified Alderman T. Anthony Zielinski, the Chairman of the Licenses Committee that Reynas Events had been cited in August for holding a private family party at the 611 building. Reynas Events was granted an occupancy permit, but Ald. Pérez had withheld any action for a restaurant license after Reynas Events had filed for one.
Reynas Events actually received a police citation of $600 eight days after the family event by Milwaukee Police Officer Guadalupe Velasquez. Officer Velasquez issued the citation on hearsay and was never present or investigated the incident when the event happened.
Ald. Zielinski brought up the issue of the citation after he was told by Ald. Pérez and police at the hearing had no record of it and had not notified Reyna or Alfonso Morales from Reynas Events of the issue pending. Reynas Events was not granted a liquor license because Ald. Pérez wanted to hold the matter because of the citation and questionable ownership of the 611 property. The Committee also didn't want to continue on the matter until the citation issue was dealt with and they voted to hold any action on granting a liquor license to Reynas Events until next month.
Morales also told HNNUSA that Alderman Pérez set a meeting on August 21 at 10:00 a.m. in City Hall.  When Morales arrived at the meeting with Ald. Pérez, there were at least 15 people including Ald. Pérez's administrative assistant. Apparently, Officer Velasquez and Erica Lewandowski, Special Enforcement Supervisor with the Department of Neighborhood Services were also present. 
HNNUSA has sent an e-mail request to Ald. Pérez to explain the purpose of the meeting with the 14 city employees and Morales and to provide any information in discussion. HNNUSA also would like to know, if it is a common practice by an alderman or Common Council members to hold such meetings with every potential business owner seeking a license from the city before the actual official Licenses Committee meeting.
Ald. Pérez has not comment on the August 21 meeting with Morales and city employees. 
On Thursday, Alfonso Morales from Reynas Events said, that he applied for a restaurant (food dealer) license and occupancy permit in May and later discovered the food license for the restaurant had been delayed by Ald. Pérez who had placed a hold with the Milwaukee city Health Department. In July, Morales received his occupancy permit for 300 people. He says, that all the required modifications ordered by city inspectors for the restaurant were made, including installing an air conditioned system, which the place didn't have when prior owners of the first floor lounge ran the place. Morales has been paying about $2,500 in rent per month since May and has invested more than $30,000, including $19,000 for the air conditioning unit, rebuilt all refrigerators, made kitchen and lounge space modifications to pass city inspections. Ald. Pérez led Morales to believe that he would open soon at the lounge formerly known as El Babalu, Tainos Lounge/Sports Bar or later El Sabroso. But on Tuesday, Morales discovered that Ald. Pérez had mislead him and actually blocked Morales from opening his business at the 611 building. Morales stated, "Ald. Pérez also recommended for me to apply for an Assembly permit on August 21 and all these months an army of city inspectors with Ald. Pérez knowledge had inspected and approved the modifications needed to get the restaurant license." Morales's restaurant license continues on hold today by Ald. Pérez request.

For more information and video of the Licenses Committee at following article and link: Alderman Pérez Opposed Liquor License For Business At Esperanza Unida Building

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