The completed project will build off other neighborhood development activities which have occurred over the past 10 years, thanks to the tireless efforts of the late Welford Sanders.
Welford Sanders became involved in the Martin Luther King Drive Economic Development Corporation (MLKEDC) in the 1990s and was named executive director of the nonprofit in 2001. He led significant redevelopment efforts, including the four previous King Drive Commons phases totaling approximately $25 million in development costs.
“Under the visionary leadership of Welford Sanders, MLKEDC has been transforming the Harambee neighborhood for more than 20 years,” said Ben Johnson, President of the MLKEDC Board. “This project is the most significant and prominent one we have ever undertaken and it’s appropriate to honor Welford’s legacy by naming the project after him. We are very grateful to our investors and partners who stood by us and supported our efforts throughout these many years.”
Sanders worked tenaciously to help secure the building now named in his honor. The project is expected to average 70 full-time construction jobs monthly for over a one-year construction period at family-supporting wages. The development team will exceed the City of Milwaukee and WHEDA’s required SBE participation level, including the goal of using 40% locally underemployed or unemployed workers in the construction labor force.
The current phase of renovation and construction started in February 2017 and will be complete in March 2018. These images are from the Juneteenth Day ribbon cutting and ground breaking ceremony at the Welford Sanders Historic Lofts. The celebration was attended by state and local officials, along with community leaders, industry partners, and members of the public.