Mayor Tom Barrett announced today that Palermo Villa, Inc. plans to purchase land in the Menomonee Valley and become the first employer to locate in the City of Milwaukee’s new business center. The Redevelopment Authority will consider the offer to purchase a 14-acre Menomonee Valley site at its meeting on May 19. Palermo’s new site would be located in the industrial park now under construction at the former Milwaukee Roads Shops, on the west end of the Menomonee Valley.
Palermo Villa, Inc. is a family-owned Italian food manufacturer that has been in business for 40 years in Milwaukee. Most familiar to Milwaukeeans is Jack ‘Papa’ Palermo, and his pizzas. Palermo’s is now the second-fastest growing frozen pizza brand in America. The company has 270 full-time employees and plans to consolidate its Milwaukee and Illinois operations in a new facility to be built in the Valley. The consolidation will allow for future growth of the company and is expected to create at least 80 new jobs in its first year. Palermo’s intends to construct a unique Italian villa-style facility that will house corporate offices, bakery, pizza production and storage.
“I’m pleased to welcome Palermo Villa Inc., a family-run Milwaukee business, as the first tenant in the Menomonee Valley business center,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “Palermo’s employs a diverse workforce and offers its employees family-supporting wages, health care and other benefits. This is the type of company that’s going to see the Valley as a very attractive location, and it’s a great fit for our vision as well.”
“During each of the past five years, we have experienced double-digit sales growth that has been driven in large part by the introduction of our newest branded product, Primo Thin,” said Giacomo Fallucca, President, Palermo Villa, Inc. “This has prompted us to identify ways to ensure that we keep pace with increasing consumer demand for our products, and building our new facility in the Menomonee Valley is the best way to achieve that goal,” Fallucca added.
Palermo Villa Inc., which ships its products to all of the US and Canada, currently has corporate offices in Milwaukee and manufacturing plants in both Milwaukee on W. Maple Street and in Elk Grove Village, Illinois. More than 60% of the company’s employees are minorities, with skilled and semi-skilled wage earners averaging $11.31 per hour. The company expects to continue to draw its employees from the immediate neighborhood near the new facility.
“The Menomonee Valley is positioned to work for Milwaukee as a center of economic activity so that Milwaukee can go to work,” said Mayor Barrett. “Today’s announcement marks a significant step in the transformation of the former railroad shops property into a vibrant business park that is close to its workforce, close to downtown and located near a major interstate highway.”
"We are working together with the City of Milwaukee to attract companies to the Valley that will support the economic growth of the surrounding neighborhoods and the region as a whole - and this project already meets many of the objectives we are trying to achieve,” said Laura Bray, Executive Director of Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc. (MVP), a public-private partnership revitalizing the Valley. “We look forward to working with Palermo Villa to make this project a win for this fast-growing local company, for the workforce in surrounding communities, and for high-quality development."
The company plans to incorporate the Valley's Sustainable Design Guidelines in their project. Created in partnership by MVP, Sixteenth Street Community Health Center, and the City of Milwaukee, the guidelines are practical, cost-effective, "green" approaches to development that help businesses achieve higher returns on their upfront investment and improve the aesthetic quality and environmental performance of the Valley. The Sigma Group incorporated these methods at their new headquarters at Emmber and Canal Streets, and, as a result, they have experienced dramatic reduction in water and energy consumption, among other positive outcomes.
Palermo’s new facility would be the first business to locate in the 140-acre site formerly known as the Milwaukee Roads Shops. The area was used as a rail yard and contained several manufacturing plants, employing 3,000 Milwaukeeans in the early 1900’s. The Milwaukee Road owned the land until the railroad went bankrupt in 1977. The City of Milwaukee acquired the land for clean up and redevelopment. The $20 million clean up project included 23 federal and state brownfield grants to address the contaminated soil, old foundations and miles of relic brick sewers. Asbestos was removed and the soil was capped to protect human health and the environment.
Much of the soil from the Marquette Interchange project will be trucked down to the Valley and added to top off areas of the business park. Mayor Barrett said this will save state taxpayers on the costs of hauling the dirt elsewhere, as it aids in the redevelopment of the Valley.
Palermo Villa Inc. hopes to begin construction later this year, pending approval of the land sale by the Redevelopment Authority and the Common Council. The City of Milwaukee and the Menomonee Valley Partners will cooperate in marketing the rest of the available acreage in the business park, as well as property owned by MVP. Remaining property in the business park will be available for construction in 2007.
Learn more about efforts to redevelop the Menomonee Valley www.RenewTheValley.org