A Downtown Game-Changer


When it comes to downtown revitalization, we’ve laid a strong foundation.

From passing the downtown plan to unveiling a new downtown revitalization grant program to starting work on our downtown “ownership” agenda to planning for streetscaping upgrades 2017, we’re putting the right pieces in place to ensure long-term, sustainable growth in our city center.

Momentum is growing.

Today, we accelerate that momentum.

This morning, we are partnering with award-winning local architectural and development firm Vetter Denk to announce plans for one of the biggest new construction projects in downtown South Milwaukee in decades.

The estimated $6.6 million development, as proposed, calls for the following on 0.74 acres at 11th and Madison Avenues:

  • An approximately 5,000-square foot microbrewery with adjacent beer garden;
  • 24 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments;
  • A 8,000-square-foot green space that will serve as a public square and gathering place for the apartment dwellers, nearby business patrons and community members; and
  • Approximately 5,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space.

You can see the press release here. As I say in it …

This project would be a game-changer for downtown South Milwaukee. It will serve as a catalyst in our ongoing downtown redevelopment efforts. It’s especially exciting to have a first-class firm like Vetter Denk behind this. From the Beerline riverfront condominiums in Milwaukee to their work in redeveloping Green Bay’s waterfront, Vetter Denk’s track record is second to none. They will raise the bar for development, redevelopment, and design across our city.

The best part? As terrific as this development may be, this is just the beginning.

We are just getting started on our journey to revitalize South Milwaukee’s city center, and this news is a big step.


Filed under South Milwaukee

23 responses to “A Downtown Game-Changer

  1. Where will this all happen. What parts of S.M? Sounds great, Tho I wonder how much our taxes will go up?

    • It’s planned for the northeast corner of 11th and Madison and, no, taxes should not increase with this. In fact, these types of developments shift more of the tax base away from residential property owners over time. That’s one reason why new commercial commercial development like this — downtown or otherwise — is so important.

  2. This is just what the town needs-new business,uptown apts-revitalized city center. this in turn will create spin off businesses. Great job Mayor[ etal ]. Make it happen.


    Pretty exciting for our community. I too wonder about the location. Could you please give us more details on where downtown this is being planned.

  4. Erin Napier

    A great step forward.

  5. Great Job Erik, I belief this is the URL with a picture of the developers http://www.residentialarchitect.com/person/john-vetter they seam very respectable.

  6. Rick

    So how much does the developer want from the City??? The CDA paid almost $1 Million for all the businesses and homes that were razed. Will this go to a referendum if the developer wants a “contribution” from the City??

    • The amount of TIF funding sought by the developer is still to be determined, but it’s clear Vetter Denk will have a lot of skin in the game no matter what the final number is. It’s one reason why I am so excited about this development, and this developer. And, no, I would not support a referendum on a decision like this. That is why elected officials are elected, to represent the people on key decisions. This process has been and will be very open and transparent — we welcome feedback along the way.

      • Frank

        TIF- Tax incentive Financing , this is where the increase in tax on the increase in property value , is used to pay back a loan. Thus, the city, school, county and MATC do not get taxes on the increase until loan is paid or years expire.. The tax increase goes to pay back a loan that is taken out. The former City Attorney, In my opinion Joe Murphy was a world class expert on TIF’s. I am still trying to figure out some of Joe’s work on the Bucyrus TIF.
        A number of 25% of the cost of construction is considered a reasonable number has been used as a starting point. It can vary. That would put the developers in for 5 million and the TIF in for around 1.6 million.
        Joe was very specific in his work to make sure the loan can be paid, with the taxes collected. A problem can occur if the property values drop and taxes collected drop. Thus. the time expires and the city is on the hook for the balance. Joe expressed residential is better then retail , and retail is better than manufacturing in holding its value. Thus if you TIF, residential is the safest investment.
        My opinion is, a TIF is confusing, hard to explain and has a lot of options. But it does get things built. When we get all the details/options on this new development , lets get a classroom with a blackboard and look at it with all the mathematics involved. I am sure one of the Maass Brothers will end up with the chalk.

  7. Rocandroo

    This is what all this time and planning and meetings and committees produced… a 90’s style business building??? I am not very impressed with this design, it is not interesting at all and says nothing about the character of South Milwaukee. Unless the rebranding of SM is to be generic and boring, I would have this architectural firm go back to the chalkboard. This will not help to attract the younger generation and business owners to the area, nothing about this says creative or original.

    • You are welcome to your opinion, but I disagree. I also caution that this is not the final design by any means. It’s still early in the process. Vetter Denk is an award-winning design firm, and I am certain they will deliver a first-class design, as they have with their other projects. This is what they are famous for, and why we’re fortunate to have this firm behind this project. As to what “all this time and planning and meetings and committees produced,” this is just the start, the first project. I am confident others will follow, and it’s our job as a city to make sure developments Nos. 2, 3, and 4 happen, and are just as good as this one, or better. All of this foundational work, I believe, will yield just that. It’s delivering wins big and small already, and the plan was passed just four months ago. None of this would happen without a plan, and working the plan.

      • Rocandroo

        So with all this time dedicated to “planning” when will this development actually be built??? When will we see a real improvement in the downtown? Please be specific.

      • Our downtown’s decline took decades. Turning it around will take years, but we’re on our way. As for specifics, I know this … Vetter Denk wants to have shovels in the ground next spring. Grillworks expects to open in the next couple weeks. Scrappy’s barbecue is looking at mid-October. Jen’s Sweet Treats, which has been here only a short time, can’t wait to remodel and expand, and is right now seeking funding through our new downtown grant program. Mara’s Sewing House and The Shop motorcycle shop have ribbon cuttings next Saturday. DB Tax & Financial Services has the ribbon cutting on its renovated and expanded building on Sept. 28. Avenue Coffee House has picked up where MKE City Sippers left off. Moran’s is doing well and pondering renovation and expansion. Guardian Credit Union wants to grow in South Milwaukee, too. Aurora Healthcare is planning to bring new services to its downtown location. I think you’ll see some things happen with the former Home State Bank building soon, too. That’s how we will do this — one property, one building, one business at a time. It’s happening. We’re doing our part as a city to help make it happen.

  8. Michael Hundt

    Re-investment in the city is always good news, but I was hoping for something that didn’t involve alcohol. Maybe a movie theater, indoor skateboard/bike park, electric go carts, cyber cafe, internet commerce… Also, keep in mind Caterpillar will be vacating massive amounts of office, warehouse, shop, and retail space .

    • To me, it’s not either-or. It’s both-and. Any of those business options you mention could work well in South Milwaukee, in addition to what we’re doing here. There will be other developments, and other opportunities. We do work every day to help bring to life those opportunities.

  9. Steve fenno

    Very good news! Appreciate the efforts being made to improve our city center.

  10. Peggy

    Good job, Mayor, and the rest of your staff!! This looks to be the beginning of great business ventures and I am excited to see what the city will propose in the next steps. Bring it on!!!

  11. James Leavens

    Who are the we that form the partnership Sounds a lot like the Wal-Mart schuffle again

  12. Greg

    Granted I’m 30 years old but for some reason still a “kid” to the older generations, I think this is exactly the type of thing that was needed in downtown SM. No offense to all the local pubs cause they are all great but something like a nice modern brew-pub is exactly what appeals to the younger, non riff-raff crowds. I think this will pour a lot of interest in the downtown area and take away the bored, tired looking view we’re trying to get away from. Good job to all involved in getting this done. Hopefully whomever runs the brew-pub does so in a way that repels the bar flies that are common in basically every joint in the area.

  13. Rachel

    I’m truly hoping this makes a difference in South Milwaukee. I’m over the Walmart crowd. I’m over the trashy rentals. Driving down Milwaukee Ave now is like cruising the north side of Milwaukee. We have such beautiful areas in South Milwaukee…..then we see our downtown.

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