Northwestern Mutual proposes $14 million deal to buy O'Donnell Park

CREATED Jul 10, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - Is it a good deal or raw deal? The battle lines are drawn over a plan to sell the O'Donnell Park parking garage.

It's a prime spot on Milwaukee lakefront and the county wants to sell it to one of Milwaukee's premier companies, but not every one is ready to say "Let's make a deal."
 
Northwestern Mutual is offering $14 million for the O'Donnell Park parking garage to help accommodate its downtown expansion. County Executive Chris Abele tells TODAY'S TMJ4 he likes the deal.
 
Benson: "Is this this best deal, best price for taxpayers?"
Abele: "Well I think so - yeah I think it's a great deal."
 
The County Executive says money from the deal would pay off existing debt and leave $5 million to invest in other County Parks. 
 
"You're still going to have access. It will probably be better maintained, parking will be there and the county will be better to deploy that money elsewhere in the park system," said Abele.   
 
The county says the structure was appraised at $14 million. Under the proposed plan it would remain a public park and public parking lot, if approved by the Milwaukee County Board.
 
"I'm opposed to it," said John Lunz with Preserve our Parks. He doesn't believe the county should be in the business of selling parks land. He thinks there are other options.
 
"If Northwestern Mutual needs the parking space the county can work out a long term lease with them to give them everything they need," said Lunz, "they don't have to sell the whole facility."
 
NML plans to spend $6 million in structural improvements. In 2010 a teenager was killed when a concrete panel fell on him. 
 
The company says it has offered a plan that helps the county financially, upgrades the parking structure and enhances the open space for everyone to enjoy.