It’s been a good couple of weeks for the outlook of downtown South Milwaukee — the entire city, for that matter.
A quick recap …
- The nine-member Downtown Advisory Committee has begun meeting. They are working on establishing a firm mission, vision and strategy for the committee — and beginning to work on tackling the key issues facing our city center. It’s a formalized voice we’ve lacked in this debate for a long time. Too long.
- We’re moving ahead on our comprehensive plan and downtown plan updates. At its meeting two weeks ago, the city council formally directed our city engineer to prepare and put out a request for proposals to planning firms. Proposals will be due by April 9, and we’re asking that the plans be substantially complete by the end of the year. What are we looking for? The Plan Commission and the downtown committee jointly met earlier this month to discuss the details of the RFP. It was a great discussion. One key part: We must value creativity in this process, look for firms that can bring us new ideas and fresh approaches to our city and downtown, concepts that we can put into practice for short-, medium and long-term success. I can’t wait to start.
- Also, we have hired a new economic development coordinator. Robin Grams starts Monday, March 23. He has a passion for economic development and the skills, training and personality to make a real difference. Robin has a master’s degree in public administration (emphasis on urban planning and management) from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, where he also worked as a planning intern for the City of Indianapolis. He also studied history and urban and regional studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and was a member of its NCAA Division I swim team. I’m confident he’ll do a great job in serving as our point person for business recruitment and retention across the city. He’ll also play a significant role in working with the downtown committee in developing the downtown plan, and he’ll work closely with our Community Development Authority in marketing our tax incremental financing district properties.
All of these efforts — the formation of the downtown committee, development of the plan, and hiring of dedicated economic development support — are key building blocks we need for South Milwaukee’s future.
I’m excited to see this foundational work come alive. It will make a real difference, for the long term, this as we continue to work hard to attract new businesses and other development to our city center every day.
Momentum continues to build. I hope you feel it.
With the first Friday of Lent here, it’s a good time to ask — what’s your favorite local fish fry?
We are regulars at Emerald City Catering, but I know there are plenty more outstanding ones around town.
Post your comments below!
It’s been a good run recently for Grant Park Plaza. And that’s good for South Milwaukee.
With the recent opening of Planet Fitness and the soon-to-be open CSL Plasma location, the shopping center will be close to 90% occupied — pretty good when you look at the state of other suburban strip malls.
There was more good news Tuesday night, as the Community Development Authority and City Council approved an ownership change for most of the center, a restructuring that will see a new equity partner come on board and allow for a refinancing of existing debt.
The new equity partner is Great Lakes Capital, an investment firm based in South Bend, Ind., and the new owners of the shopping center — all buildings, including the outlots, minus the Pick ‘n Save — will officially be 2901 South Chicago LLC.
This move will further strengthen and stabilize the ownership of the center, freeing up cash that the owners have pledged to use to resurface/reseal the parking lot, fix winter damage to the lot and improve landscaping in 2015.
These enhancements are in addition to almost $900,000 in improvements the center has seen in the past year, including $750,000 for buildout of the Planet Fitness space. Another $120,000 is being invested in the CSL Plasma buildout. It will open in April.
There is still a 11,800 square-foot vacancy in the main portion of the center — formerly occupied by Wisconsin Health and Fitness — and a space next to Advance Auto Parts in that outlot. But that’s it. And that’s a good thing.
I hope you can join me for my next Meet the Mayor session this Saturday at MKE City Sippers, 911 Milwaukee Ave. downtown.
Hours are 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Special guest State Sen. Chris Larson will be joining me, so feel free to talk local or state issues (including the state budget). Or just stop in to say hi.
See you there, and bring a friend or two!
And here are my next two sessions …
- Saturday, March 21: Ace Hardware
- Saturday, April 18: I Can’t Resist Kids’ Resale/B’s Boutique, with special guest Milwaukee County Supervisor Pat Jursik
Fat Tuesday is tomorrow … why not celebrate with some local paczkis?
Wild Flour Bakery is baking these Polish treats at its South Milwaukee location, 1205 Milwaukee Ave. Paczkis are priced at 79 cents each, $4.50 half dozen, and $8.99 per dozen.
And they are available in raspberry, bavarian cream, lemon, and prune.
Stop by and buy one or a dozen!
The South Shore Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation to bring small local business owners up to speed on social media.
Check out the flyer for more on the three-part educational series.
All sessions will be held at the Cudahy Family Library and will be held from 5 to 6 p.m.
- Session 1: Tuesday, March 24, 2015 – Introduction to social media for small business
- Session 2: Thursday, June 25, 2015 – Facebook 101 for small business
- Session 3: Thursday, September 24, 2015 – Twitter 101 for small business
I continue to be impressed with the Chamber and WWBIC for their commitment to investing in the success of local business. These classes are an example of that.
You may have heard about the break-in overnight Sunday at Nona’s Café downtown.
Well, it’s not slowing Tom and Ida down. They’re open for business … as I learned first-hand Tuesday in trying their terrific meatloaf for lunch.
Stop in and show your support for this local business!
Might I suggest the elephant ears …