Bringing new life to the Caterpillar property might be the most challenging redevelopment and reuse project we’ve faced in the history of South Milwaukee.
I want to tackle that challenge head on. And we are.
On Tuesday, the South Milwaukee City Council approved spending up to $23,000 to contract with Graef Consulting to assist and advise the city, as we seek to partner with Caterpillar, One Liberty Properties (owners of much of the Cat site), and broker Colliers International in several key areas we think will aid in redeveloping the site.
Among the anticipated deliverables …
- A plan for potential reuse of the office space, expected to be the most challenging part of the property for redevelopment. This includes reuse concepts, parcel division options and a perspective on potential incentives and grant opportunities. We’ll also be taking a tour of the Century City site in Milwaukee, the former home to A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive, and apply learnings here.
- A marketing plan and profile for South Milwaukee and the downtown area that Colliers — and the city, for that matter — can use to help generate interest in the site with developers, business owners and others.
As I’ve written about, Cat is maintaining a manufacturing presence in South Milwaukee, and that’s good news. But much of its property south of Rawson Avenue is or is becoming available as professional workers continue to move to Arizona in the months ahead.
We’re focusing this early work where we feel we can do the most good.
Interest in the soon-to-be-vacant manufacturing space has been relatively strong — not as much for the office buildings. Our efforts will fill gaps that may lead to bringing new life more quickly to that portion of the site. Colliers has told us as much.
It comes down this: We, as city leaders, can’t sit idly by and simply wait and see what happens with this, hoping that a positive reuse and redevelopment comes before us. We need to be as proactive as possible, take a seat at the table and be a partner in determining just what Caterpillar 2.0 looks like in South Milwaukee.
Our city was born around the Mill Pond, but it grew up around Bucyrus, and now Caterpillar. This property is too important to the proud past and promising future of this city for us to be bystanders.
We will do everything in our power to get this right. This work is a good first step.