Let the Journey Begin

South Milwaukee downtown sunset (1)

When voters made me the mayor of this great city two years ago, their message was clear as to our top priority: Fix downtown.

It’s with that in mind that we set out on this journey to deliver a promising future for our city center, one that, if completed, will lift all of South Milwaukee. Last week marked a big step on that journey.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is covering some of that progress, and promise, in Sunday’s edition. Check it out.

Here are the details …

On Tuesday, the Common Council voted 8-0 to adopt the comprehensive and downtown plans, giving us the road map we need to drive successful and sustainable economic (re)development in South Milwaukee.

The council also voted unanimously to pass two key elements of the plan related to downtown …

  • Downtown Revitalization Grant. This will replace our Facade Grant program and focus investment in our city center, notably in the 900 and 1000 block of Milwaukee Avenue. Matching grants of up to $30,000 for both exterior and interior work are available, as we look to breathe new life into struggling downtown storefronts. Look for more details soon, and we’ll begin sharing it both broadly to downtown property owners and in a targeted fashion to prospective new property owners and businesses. The program is being initially funded at $75,000.
  • Funding for downtown strategy No. 1. The council also voted to spend up to $16,000 to continue work with Graef consulting to bring to life the most critical strategy in the plan — figuring out what downtown “ownership” looks like for South Milwaukee. I expect this work will begin in June, and we’ll have a way forward by the end of 2016.

You will also recall that we’re already working with Graef on another key part of the downtown plan: Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping options and concepts. More to come on those this summer.

And of all of this is happening while we’re working hard to attract new businesses (like this one), and help our existing ones grow (like this one), and as we continue to deliver the best special event schedule in the area. (Saturday’s Little League parade through downtown was terrific, and don’t forget the Food Truck Festival on May 22 and the Downtown Market opener on June 2.)

Have a plan, work the plan. That is my focus as mayor, and we’re doing it, together.

We’re making significant progress, and you’ll see several endorsements of the direction we’re taking in tomorrow’s newspaper. However, our work is just beginning.

Join us on the journey!


Filed under South Milwaukee

7 responses to “Let the Journey Begin

  1. We must also make homeowners and landlords help by keeping their properties in good shape so when people drive thru they will want to live in a neat and clean town. Good Luck Mayor.

    • Nitkah

      Exactly why we had to get out of SM…..absentee landlords allowed to have trashy properties, constant police presence and an unsafe environment for my children…. Talk all about “downtown” all you want, but if there’s not a desirable and safe place to live who cares??

    • Melanie

      I am in total agreement with Loretta. Many properties on 15th ave could use alot of upkeep.

  2. Bryan Lorentzen

    Nice job!

  3. Nels Monson

    Nice article in the Journal Sentinel. It’s great to see your efforts getting some positive attention. South Milwaukee’s Downtown has long been the heart of the community and your commitment towards bringing it back is very encouraging. Keep up the good work!

  4. melissa

    I agree with the property issues around the city. When driving through the city you can definitely notice issues with property upkeep especially near little league area and the area around the library. I think if we were stricter with making the yards and houses beautiful it might be a city that more people would want to move to.

  5. Rocandroo

    You will fix the rundown property issue when you make SM an attractive place for people to move to and invest in. The two factors that will make this possible are the downtown and the lakefront. I keep hearing people trying to compare SM with Oak Creek, we can’t compete with what Oak Creek has – nor should we want to. Everything in Oak Creek is big, commercial and cookie cutter. SM has beautiful green spaces and parks, a wonderful PAC, great schools, a yacht club, historical houses on Lake Drive and of course the “crown jewel” Grant Park. SM has all the makings for a renaissance to happen…we just need to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I think we need to focus on improving all the green spaces, focus on attracting local artisans, young restauranteurs, gallery owners, local craftsmen, the theater crowd and nature enthusiasts. Think local, think unique and think small business – get a vibe going on like what they have in Bay View. This is the rebranding of South Milwaukee the new South Shore. There are many things that are unique to SM, we just need to highlight them and play to our strengths.

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