Tuesday, December 30, 2014

City of Milwaukee To Seize Esperanza Unida 611 W. National Building By Monday

Esperanza Unida, Inc. ownership will end by next Monday when the City of Milwaukee will take ownership of title for the 611 W. National Ave. building for tax delinquency totaling more that $176K.

By H. Nelson Goodson
December 30, 2014

Milwaukee, WI - The City of Milwaukee by next Monday will take ownership of title for the Esperanza Unida, Inc. 611 W. National Ave. building on a foreclosure legal action for more than $176K in tax delinquency property seizure. The city will actually own the 611 building at a cheap cost for tax delinquency, since the building is accessed at nearly $2M.
The current tenants at the building will have to make arrangements with the city to temperarily stay at the location, but most likely they would have to vacate the building to avoid additional costs to maintain the building in operation.
On Monday, the City Treasurer's Office confirmed that there no effort by the Esperanza Unida Board to pay the delinquent taxes by November 19 and is confident that the city will take ownership of the building after a judge rules on Monday that the city can legally seize the property.
Meanwhile, WE Energies had agreed to keep the light flowing at the 611 W. National Ave. building through December while the city attempted to foreclose the property for tax delinquency. According to the Milwaukee Department of Development, a foreclosure was filed in a Milwaukee County court to take ownership of the 611 building for tax delinquency. The Esperanza Unida had until November 19 to pay over $176,771.60 in property taxes in order to keep the building, which has more than $600,000 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. 
Currently, Esperanza Unida owes about $180,000 to WE Energies, which the company had threaten to cut the power off, if it doesn't get paid. An agreement between the city and We Energies was reached and the power at Esperanza Unida 611 building will be kept on until Wednesday. The city will take up the monthly bill of nearly $5,000 in electricity cost and the remaining balance will be held by WE Energies until it is determine who will actually own the building or take a loss.
The city will have to continue to pay nearly $3,000 to $4,000 per month to keep the power on until it sells the building due to the ongoing water pump system.
The city learned that if the power is shut off at the 611 building, a catastrophic chain reaction would erupt that could damage the foundation of the building and most likely destroy the foundation wall facing S. 6th Street causing severe damage, flooding and sewage backup in the immediate area, according to Manuel "Manny" Pérez, the executive director of Esperanza Unida, Inc. 
The 611 building has a water flow of 5,000 gallons with at least 2,000 of psi water pressure to operate the fire sprinkle system. It would take at least two months to actually drain all the water in the system, if the city decides to shut down the building after it gets possession of the property or it would continue to pay WE Energies to keep the water system operating at the building until it is sold.
In the last year or so, the community and city hall, including the Mayor Tom Barrett's office have failed to backup or support Esperanza Unida it's financial deficit dilemma. Mayor Barrett and the city have a partnership with Esperanza Unida, but when the organization asked for help, Barrett and the city turned their back on the organization.
Esperanza Unida under the late former Richard Oulahan and predecessors have made the non-profit organization a success. The organization provided job training programs that helped thousands of low income and unskilled community residents to learn a trade and who later became productive and tax paying citizens in Milwaukee and surrounding areas. Esperanza Unida also worked with other organizations to expand on their initiatives geared for job and technical skill training. Today, none of those that have actually benefited in one way or other from the fruits of Esperanza Unida have stepped up to help the ailing organization. 
Currently under the Pérez administration at Esperanza Unida, the 611 building has been upgraded to make it a competitive real estate business property in the district, even though a lack of development has been absent in the area. Five businesses are at the 611 location, Reynas Entertainment and Mexican Restaurant, SWC Asbestos, El Sol Broadcasting, VIVA Health Care and a new business, Staffing Partners, a temperary branch employment agency managed by Andrés Guzmán. Guzmán says, the employment agency move at the location last month.
The BMO Harris Bank (formerly Marshall & Ilsley Bank) holds several liens on the building for more than $600,000. An Oshkosh developer has offered to pay $1.3M for the building and turn it into a 55-unit loft apartments, but that deal seems to be at a dead end and to no avail for Esperanza Unida.
In brief, Oulahan took out several real estate mortgages in 1994 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.

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