Remember last fall when the Common Council and Milwaukee Public Schools approved plans to turn the vacant Malcolm X Academy into a renovated school, low-income apartments and commercial space?
Critics at the time said it was a poorly conceived rush job designed to prevent a competing private school, St. Marcus Lutheran School, from acquiring the building as an expansion site.
Supporters said the public-private partnership would help kids and put part of the sprawling Malcolm X building, covering almost five acres on the city’s north side, back on the tax rolls.
Nine months later, nothing has been done.
The developer hasn’t applied for tax credits, let alone bought the building. Both were key to the deal. The Common Council still must act on final development plans before permits for construction can be issued, city officials say.
MPS and one of the development partners say the deal is still on, but nobody will say — publicly, anyway — the cause for the hold-up. Both suggest the other is dragging its feet.
Meanwhile, Henry Tyson, the superintendent of St. Marcus Lutheran School, submitted a letter of interest for another nearby empty MPS building — Lee School. That was in May. Six weeks later, a Milwaukee teacher who works for the teachers union submitted a proposal to turn Lee into a charter school run by district staff.
“We continue to say what we’ve said before: that this is a shell game to keep usable buildings out of the hands of high-quality voucher and charter school operators,” Tyson said.