This property at 721-23 Howard St. is the latest of the City’s acquisitions in the area.  No use has been designated as yet.                             Photo by Mary Mumbrue

The City continues to acquire more and more of Howard Street. At the Jan. 13 City Council meeting, the Council authorized  City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz to negotiate a contract for the purchase of 721-23 Howard St.

BMO Harris Bank acquired the property, a 5,000-square-foot lot with a 3,600-square-foot, single-story building with a basement, through foreclosure in late 2012.

The listing price was $140,000, but Eighth Ward Alderman Ann Rainey said that, after a public “rant” against the bank,  it took less than 24 hours for the phone to ring – repeatedly. The City will now purchase the building for $95,000, or about $19 per square foot of land and $26.40 per square foot of building – the price at which the bank acquired the property at auction, according to a City staff memo.

Funding comes from the Howard-Ridge tax-increment financing (TIF) district. The adopted fiscal year 2014 budget shows a beginning fund balance of $1.3 million in the TIF district.

The newest acquisition adjoins 727-29 Howard St., another property purchased by the City, this one to entice a theatre troupe. Ald. Rainey said the purchase of 721-23 Howard St. is a critical piece of the City’s redevelopment plans for Howard Street.

Over the past three years, the City’s Howard Street purchases have resulted in the redevelopment of 629-631 Howard St. into an award-winning cocktail lounge with two apartment rental units and the redevelopment of 623-27 Howard St. into a restaurant brew-pub, the Peckish Pig, that is slated to open within the next few weeks.

The property at 727-29 Howard St. has seen significant interest from a variety of theatre groups, according to the staff memo. While the City has not come to agreement in terms for redevelopment of this property, staff continues to work toward that end, the memo continues.

As to what the City will do with the 721-23 Howard building, residents will have to await further developments.