Two Marquette graduates recently made a class project about housing development become a reality with the grand opening of the Mitchell Street Market Lofts on Milwaukee’s south side.
Sherry Terrell-Webb and Tina Anderson began work on the housing complex while enrolled in Marquette’s Associates in Commercial Real Estate program from 2008 to 2009. Terrell-Webb, a 1995 Law School graduate, said the pair was assigned the task of researching and pitching a housing development from start to finish.
“We actually had to pick an area in the city and come up with a development plan,” Terrell-Webb said. “We had to do everything you would have to do if you were going to actually build it. That’s talking to architects, talking to people at the city, figuring out who owns it, environmental issues, everything that’s actually involved in doing a development.”
Anderson, a 2008 alumna of the Graduate School of Management, said the program concluded with each group giving a presentation on their development. The two women put their research and work on display for the program’s instructor, Bob Lemke, and many of the city officials they had been in contact with throughout the year.
“The feedback that we got back from that presentation was so positive, and it was so encouraging that they felt as though, if this was a real project, this was something that was feasible,” Anderson said. “It wasn’t just a classroom thing; this was something that could really go forth.”
As Anderson and Terrell-Webb began creating their project in the real world, they quickly realized that, although much of the background research had already been conducted during the course, there was still a lot of work to be done. With Lemke’s help, the two women were able to fill in the holes and complete the project.
“Not only was (Lemke) a business partner, but he was a mentor,” Anderson said. “Keeping in mind this is our first experience, there were some things that we came across that we didn’t expect, and even the classroom was not able to teach us. So (Lemke) really held our hand, so to speak, and walked us through that entire process, while respecting that we’re not just students anymore; we’re actually business partners in this venture.”
After spending two years obtaining tax credits and financing the development, the project broke ground in September 2011, and on Oct. 12, the 24-unit building at 1948 W. Mitchell St. had its ribbon-cutting ceremony. Terrell-Webb said the completion of the project was a moment of pride for her, after devoting more than three years to its development.
“It was very exciting,” she said. “It’s always great to see something that started as a project grow into an actual building. We got to spend time with the tenants, and they told us how much they appreciated the building. They told us that they were looking for a quality place to live, and we put it there.”