By H. Nelson Goodson
November 26, 2014
Milwaukee, WI - On Wednesday, the Milwaukee Department of City Development delivered a property tax foreclosure action notice to all the tenants and Manuel "Manny" Pérez, the Esperanza Unida, Inc. executive director that it has filed legal action in a Milwaukee County Court to seize the 611 W. National Ave. property. The foreclosure action notice to Esperanza Unida was sent by Martha Brown, the Deputy Commissioner from the Department of City Development. According to Brown's foreclosure notice, Pérez has until January 5, 2015 to pay over $176,771.60 in property taxes in order to keep the building, which has nearly $700,000 in bank liens.
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 Esperanza Board in May accepted an offer from an Oshkosh developer to buy the building for $1.3M, but several banks need to release the liens in order for the Esperanza Unida Board to sell the building before the city will seize it for tax delinquency and later sell it for several cents to a dollar. The Oshkosh developer is planning to invest more than $7M to convert the 611 building into a 55-unit apartment complex.
The former and late Esperanza Unida executive director Richard Oulahan took out several real estate mortgages totalling $600,000 ($600K) in loans from Marshall & Ilsley Bank (M&I, now BMO Harris Bank) without a Board Chair signature. Pérez has confirmed that there is no record on file about what ever happened to the M&I loans or how they were actually spent.
Pérez on Wednesday stated, "The 611 international building will either be sold by December 31 or foreclosed on January 5. As I have pointed out before, this is due to inappropriate loans made by Richard Oulahan and the 1994 Esperanza Unida Board, low rents below market rate, and lack of economic development by the City of Milwaukee in the Milwaukee South Side for many years. Under my administration, the building was drastically improved and readied to either increase rents or be sold so, creditors can get paid off. This demonstrates the need for coordinated economic development, urban planning, and workforce development to maximize benefit to workers and businesses."
Hispanic News Network U.S.A. (HNNUSA) learned that the Mayor's office, the Milwaukee Common Council and Esperanza Unida had a partnership to make sure the non-profit organization would receive the support from the city and any financial help to succeed, but the city apparently failed to live up to its partnership with Esperanza Unida. Esperanza Unida had attempted to get the promised help, but Mayor Tom Barrett and the Common Council turned their backs on the non-profit organization. The city has financially invested millions of dollars to helped other non-Hispanic organizations and businesses to economically succeed.