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Midtown Vacant Lot To Become Substance Abuse Treatment Center

June 17, 2023
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A residential treatment facility for males battling substance abuse issues will expand under a proposal endorsed Tuesday by a Common Council committee.

Serenity Inns would purchase two vacant lots at N. 28th St. and W. Brown St. to develop a 14-bed, $2.4 million facility.
The nonprofit operates a transitional living facility across the street at 2825 W. Brown St.

“What would be different about this facility is it would be residential, evidence-based treatment,” said Serenity CEO Kenneth Ginlack, Sr. to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee. Patients in the new facility would qualify for Medicaid billing and stay for longer periods of time.

“They have been doing great work,” said area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II. “The progress of those men has been outstanding.”

Ginlack said the organization, which he joined in 2021, has operated at the Brown Street location in the Midtown neighborhood since 2004 without incident.

“There is a strong need,” he said of the surge of overdose deaths.

The organization hopes to start construction his fall. Financing is being provided by IFF, a community development financial institution.

“With its new facility, Serenity Inns will be able to expand access to services for individuals struggling with substance use and provide crucial education about drug prevention and the early signs of addiction. At a time when overdose deaths are surging around the country, this is a project that will help Milwaukee better respond to the crisis in a meaningful way,” said IFF Wisconsin and Iowa director of lending Darian Luckett in a statement.

The Siebert Lutheran Foundation, Bader Philanthropies and Bradley Family Foundation have all backed the organization. A capital campaign is planned.

Ginlack, a licensed psychotherapist, is walking the walk. He started his career after completing treatment for substance use disorder. Prior to leading Serenity Inns, Ginlack served as director of outpatient programs for the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division.

The city would sell the two lots for $1 each. Addressed as 2816 W. Brown St. and 2830 W. Brown St., they form an approximately 8,200 square foot development site. They were acquired via property tax foreclosure in 2004. Homes on the lots had been demolished in the years just before the city’s acquisition.

The full Common Council must still approve the sale and any zoning approvals or building permits must be secured.