“I hope it won’t take too long, because we’re tired of talking,” he said.
The Sherman Phoenix project was completed in a remarkably short time. Its grand opening in November 2018 at the former BMO Bank took place just over two years after angry crowds set fire to the bank after the fatal police shooting of 23-year-old Sylville Smith.
The building has been transformed into a home for 27 businesses, nearly all owned by African Americans, offering food, spas, counseling, therapy services, yoga, art and clothing. According to the Sherman Phoenix website, the project has generated more than 75 jobs.
Anthony said the project on Madison’s south side won’t replicate the Sherman Phoenix project, but it has similar goals.
“It created a gateway for high-quality spaces for small businesses of color offering diverse food, wellness services, cultural activities,” he said.
The Milwaukee project was buoyed by a groundswell of support, with the bulk of its initial $4 million funding package largely backed by private investors, along with nearly $500,000 in state and city funding.
Anthony said similar community support will be needed on the Madison project.
“We need the community to come around us and make this project work,” he said. “And I think the Dane County community as a whole will be better off.”
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