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Sherman Phoenix Project Closer To Fundraising Goal

State Grant Pushes Total Raised To Nearly Two-Thirds Of Target

Co-developers JoAnne Sabir and Juli Kaufmann
Co-developers JoAnne Sabir (left) and Juli Kaufmann, of The Sherman Phoenix project in Milwaukee. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

A business development in one of the buildings set fire to during Milwaukee’s Sherman Park protests following the fatal police shooting of Sylville Smith in August 2016, is one step closer to opening.

On Tuesday, the state of Wisconsin awarded a $250,000 grant to a business re-development project called Sherman Phoenix.

The money from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. puts the developers of Sherman Phoenix about two-thirds of the way to their fundraising goal.

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JoAnne Sabir, co-developer of the project, said for much of the project it looked like the $2.5 million they had raised would be enough to fix up what used to be a bank.

Remediation work continues inside this building in Milwaukee, which is part of the Sherman Phoenix project. Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

“However, the burned (structure), the remediation of the building and outlying soil, got us to a place where we still need another million dollars to be successful,” Sabir said Tuesday following a news conference.

Sabir says she’s “beyond confident” the rest of money will be raised.

The development will be a space for entrepreneurs, providing space for minority-owned businesses.

At least 20 businesses have signed up to be in the so-called entrepreneurial hub, said Juli Kaufmann, the other co-developer of the project. Once fully operating, the development has plans to employ about 75 people.

“Creating paychecks and bottom lines that re-circulate in Sherman Park and beyond, that wealth stays here. And that is how we change the trajectory of this community and many like it, so that all of Milwaukee, and all of Wisconsin in communities like this, can rise up,” Kaufmann said.

Sherman Phoenix hopes to open this fall.