Investing in a Special Public Space, Downtown

Downtown came alive Thursday night, as more than 100 people watched Reverend Raven and the Chain Smokin’ Altar Boys perform at the South Milwaukee Downtown Market.

It was a terrific atmosphere. The energy was real.

As mayor, it was a beautiful sight.

But as I sat there and took it all in, I couldn’t help but think what this might look like a year or two from now – once a grander vision for this space is realized and it becomes the special community gathering and event space it can and should be, the space our downtown (our city) deserves.

I’m happy to say we’re now on that path.

On Tuesday, the South Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved a motion for city staff to draft and issue a request for proposals for concept designs at the city-owned properties at 2109 11th Ave. and 1014-1028 Madison Ave. for public/institutional use

To be clear, this is not the final word on the site, and the council must still approve selection of a planning firm and any actual dollar investment in the space. But it’s a great start — a positive first step into making this site into a special, and lasting, redevelopment.

This is the almost ¾ of an acre of property at 11th and Madison used by the South Milwaukee Downtown Market and a variety of special events, from food truck festivals to Crusherfest to the Restore the Lagoon Festival this Saturday. In the recent past, we’ve also had outdoor movies there.

The space was previously home to a couple of bars and other businesses before the city, in 2005, began acquiring the properties as part of a tax incremental financing district — the same TID that will help fund redevelopment of the site as a public space — and razed them.

There was minimal interest over the years in redeveloping the parcel. As we marketed the site, the Market also invested in the space, with a wooden stage built as part of an Eagle Scout project, and picnic tables. Still, 2/3 of it has remained undeveloped.

Under these new plans, the entire site would come to life.

My vision: Transform it into something that will serve as an everyday gathering place and special event hub.

Among the uses we’ll look at as we begin this planning process this fall, in partnership with organizations like the South Milwaukee Downtown Market, Lions Club, Bucyrus Foundation and others, and at least partially funded through TIF …

  • Incorporation of market and green space;
  • Permanent restrooms;
  • Future band shell/sound amplifying capabilities;
  • Additional parking;
  • Buildings for quasi-public or institutional use;
  • Landscaping or other open space improvements like lighting; and
  • Possible child’s play area.

I also hope to celebrate our city’s history in this space, led by Bucyrus and the role it and South Milwaukee played in moving earth across the globe.

That said, I really don’t want to be too prescriptive in this process. Ideas will be welcome. Community involvement will be key. This will be your space, a once-in-a-generation opportunity for our downtown.

And when you combine it with the more than $1.5 million Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping effort, the city is stepping up investment in our city center like never before.

The momentum continues to build.

More details in this NOW article.

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Ready for Some Football? The Rockets Open Tonight at Spaltholz Field

Go Rockets! More details here.

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Bike Rides, Festivals, and Beach Walks: Check Out All of the Activities on Saturday

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Saturday: Take a Sunset Walk on Grant Park Beach

After the Restore the Lagoon Festival, check this event out …

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Reminder: Restore the Lagoon Festival is Saturday, and it Includes a Special Program for Veterans

Check out the information below, and we’ll see you August 24!

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2019 Curb Appeal Awards: And the Winners Are …

628 Hawthorne Ave.
612 Lake Drive
1410 17th Ave.
1214 17th Ave.
1732 Oak St.
216 Menomonee Ave.
Taco Stop, 513 N. Chicago Ave.
South Milwaukee McDonald’s, 2715 S. Chicago Ave.
Friends of the Mill Pond and Oak Creek Watercourse, for this beautiful display at the top of the Grant Park Beach road, and other plantings near park signs.

Update: A few honorable mentions that also scored highly: 601 Willow Lane, 3400 Willow Lane, 1741 Lakeview Ave., 421 Hawthorne Ave. 1011 Aspen Ave.

I’m proud to announce the 2019 South Milwaukee Beautification Committee Curb Appeal Award winners!

The awards are presented annually to businesses, homeowners and civic organizations who devote extra effort to their property’s beautification, through landscaping and other street-facing efforts.

We had nearly 50 nominations this year, and it was difficult judging for the committee. Judging criteria include utilization of color, appropriateness for the architecture of the structure, originality, lawn upkeep, and decorative exterior structures. Properties are also judged on the overall exterior appearance of their buildings. 

Each of the homeowners will receive $50, a yard sign and digital media recognition. The businesses will receive everything but the cash prize.

Next up? Rocketober and Light up South Milwaukee awards. More details here … start planning your entries now!

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Save a Life August 21: South Milwaukee Lions Blood Drive

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August 17, 2019 · 6:00 am