Washington Park Townhomes / Esser Paint

Washington Park Townhomes is a new redevelopment by Gorman & Company, and involves the Esser Paint parcels that are identified as a catalytic redevelopment project in the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Economic Development Plan.  The project is substantially completed and consists of 40 attached single family dwelling units in six row-house style buildings.  There are 26 two-bedroom and 14 three-bedroom units, as well as a 900-sf community building that will house a leasing ofice, a small conference room and maintenance shop.  This project includes set aside for residents earning 30, 50, and 60 percent or less of the Milwaukee County Area Median Income. The project targetsveteran families as an integrated supportive housing component (minimum of 25% of the housing units.)

For information about leasing units in Washington Park Townhomes, contact the Gorman Leasing Office at 414-263-0189.

Washington Park Townhomes Rendering
Washington Park Townhomes


Former T.C. Esser Paint Facility Background

The former T.C. Esser Paint facility was a large manufacturing complex located in the Walnut Hill Neighborhood near North 32nd Street and West Galena Street. facility included six multi-story buildings that were built over a period of time between the 1890s and 1950s. eastern facades of the buildings were constructed to include a retaining wall that was immediately adjacent to the 30th Street railroad corridor. This corridor was recessed 20-feet below street grade and the buildings were four to five stories high from the railroad level, and two-to three stories above street grade. retaining wall also included docks for loading and unloading rail cars.


Manufacturing activities ceased in 1982 and the buildings were used for storage and warehousing until 2000. The property was transferred to Galena Redevelopment Corporation and sat vacant from 2000 until the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) stepped in with State and Federal regulators to force the owner’s hand to deal with their deteriorating facility.


Three substantial phases moved the property toward redevelopment. The first phase was completed by the former owner, Galena Redevelopment Corporation, as part of a negotiated Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent for Removal Action with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). Settlement Agreement tasks were performed at the site from March 2007 through August 2008 and were focused on addressing issues determined to pose an immediate threat to public health, welfare, and the environment.


The second phase of work was conducted between May 2009 and August 2010, after site ownership transferred to RACM, and focused on addressing contamination resulting from 19 known tanks. UST exposure and characterization activities were performed first, followed by removal of USTs from three outdoor tank basins and also within the building basement. Tanks ranged in size from 3,000 to 12,000 gallons and contained a variety of sludgy liquids including petroleum compounds and varnishes. Soil and groundwater sampling was conducted and identified two areas with contamination from leaking USTs. Both areas were excavated to remove source contamination and backfilled with clean material. The third phase of work was demolition of all six buildings, which took place in October and November of 2011. The retaining wall was left intact and cut down to street level.


The immediate need for neighborhood was new, energy efficient housing that included both single- and multi-family components. This need was determined by three different community plans: the Planning for Hope/Partners for Change in Washington Park plan (Summer 2004), the Washington Park Plan (June 2006), and the 30th Street Corridor Economic Development Master Plan (August 2011).


In 2011 RACM was awarded a USEPA Cleanup Grant to help facilitate environmental remediation and development. Between 2013 and 2015 RACM issued a Request for Developer Interest (RDI) to redevelopment the property and changed the zoning from industrial to Detailed Planned Development (DPD). RACM and community partners selected Gorman & Company, Inc. to implement their Washington Park Townhomes concept and the property was formerly conveyed to Gorman in 2017. The remaining environmental remediation was conducted in conjunction with site development.



Esser News & Updates


February 2019
City recognizes completion of the Washington Park Townhomes (Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service)

July 2017
City land sale wins approval for delayed Milwaukee affordable apartments development (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

September 2015
Developer plans apartments at former Milwaukee industrial site (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

November 2012
Redevelopment Authority and Planning Staff Presentation to Washington Park Partners Housing Committee

December 2011
Redevelopment Authority and Planning Staff Presentation to Washington Park Partners Housing Committee

City of Milwaukee Department of Administration Director Sharon Robinson

Benji Timm
30th Street Corridor Project Manager
(414) 286-5756

Department of City Development
809 North Broadway
Milwaukee, WI  53202

Contact Area Common Council Members
District 1 Ald. Andrea M. Pratt
District 7 Ald. Khalif J. Rainey
District 15 Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II

Contact Mayor Cavalier Johnson

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