Bader Breaks Ground on New Central City HQ

Hundreds of people packed into a large tent in Milwaukee's Harambee neighborhood Monday morning to celebrate a new organization coming to the area. Bader Philanthropies, one of Milwaukee's largest foundations, was holding a ceremonial groundbreaking for their new headquarters at 3318 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

Foundation president and chief executive office Dan Bader served as the emcee of the event. Bader stated that “we hope and we dream that this will allow us to grow as a catalyst for change,” before praising the vision of his parents to create the foundation and the organization's board and staff for carrying out their vision.

Mayor Tom Barrett praised Bader's commitment to Milwaukee and desire to relocate into a community they're working to uplift. The mayor stated “everyone at Bader embodies the belief that you can make a difference.” Barrett noted that the firms that work on building the new headquarters will be able to use the project as a “badge of honor.” In concluding his remarks Barrett stated that Bader is “demonstrating how important it is to spread the message that we can do better as a community.”

Area alderwoman Milele A. Coggs praised Bader's investment in the neighborhood in her remarks. Remarking on redeveloping the north end of N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. the alderwoman spoke frankly, stating that “it has been, quite honestly, until recent times a struggle.” She noted that the stretch of the street south of W. North Ave. has no shortage of interest as the new arena will anchor its southern end, but it's taken substantially more effort to generate interest to the north. She praised Bader, stating “it is easy to sit in glass towers and serve the peasants, but it is another thing entirely to put your headquarters where the community needs you.” Coggs went on to praise Bader for being a catalyst not just for the built environment, but for making strides to improve the qualify of life of those in the neighborhood.

Frank Cumberbatch, who is managing the project for Bader, was the last individual to speak at the ceremony. Cumberbatch, who joined Bader in May 2016, stated “Bader Philanthropies has been open and clear about its unwavering commitment to working with minorities, particularly African Americans.” The project manager went on to list off the many firms involved in the project, led by African American-owned general contractor JCP Construction. Also participating in the project are the African-American-owned civil engineering firm Spann & Associates, LLC, African-American owned Spencer Construction, female and African-American-owned Zoe Engineering, African-American owned abatement specialist White Glove Group and female-owned Barber Engineering. Cumberbatch also praised the work of Uihlein Wilson Architects and firm partner Scott Ramlow for translating the vision of Bader into an actual plan.

Cumberbatch, while standing directly in front of Mayor Barrett, noted that dealing with the city isn't a straight forward process on a project like this. He noted “I've had to deal with 12 departments. Mr. Mayor today is your lucky day, all 12 have been nice to use.” Cumberbatch went on to praise one city employee at length. According to the Bader project manager Yves LaPierre, real estate analyst at the Department of City Development, has gone above and beyond in helping clear the way for the Bader project, including work well outside of his department.

After the remarks it was time to break out the silver shovels. The speakers and members of the board and staff took turns flipping a ceremonial pile of a dirt provided by the Victory Garden Initiative.

The foundation is relocating to Harambee from leased space in The Saddlery building at 233 N. Water St. in the Historic Third Ward. The organization acquired their new home in October 2016 for $375,000. According to city records, the two-story building has 15,976 square-feet of space and was originally constructed in 1927.

The project is expected to be completed in May 2018 at an estimated cost of $9.5 million. Bader first announced the move in August 2016.

Bader Philanthropies was formerly known as the Helen Bader Foundation and was founded by Helen and Alfred Bader. The couple founded a chemical company in Milwaukee that is today known as Sigma-Aldrich Corporation. Through the Helen Daniels Bader Fund and the Isabel and Alfred Bader Fund, the organization supports innovative projects and programs through grants, convening partners, and sharing knowledge to affect emerging issues in key areas. Since its founding in 1992, the Helen Bader Foundation committed more than $250 million in grants and program-related investments, such as loans and equity investments that advance its charitable mission.