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!