Downtown Momentum: Progress in Our City Center

Craig and Jeannie Luther, owner of Military Connection, 723 Milwaukee Ave.

South Milwaukee’s rebirth starts in our city center. And it’s happening, as the city makes the investments necessary to transform downtown … and very cool new and existing businesses take notice.

Let’s start with a couple projects the city is driving …

First, Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping, the $1.5 million project that will completely transform our Main Street, bringing new infrastructure and a new look and feel to the Avenue.

Work is done for the season. And while the early onset of winter weather has delayed the project some, we were able to replace off the light poles from 9th to 13th Avenues and complete the street improvements on 9th (removing angle parking near Azteca Restaurant) and the 900 block of Milwaukee. Work will pick up again in the spring, when you’ll see new sidewalks installed, as well as trees, planters, bike racks and a bike lane from Mill Road to 15th Avenue.

Much more to come on this — and you can can get project details here.

Also, the planning effort on the public space planned for 11th and Madison is progressing. We have released our request for proposals — see it here — which outlines a potential vision for this space that includes strong public input early and often in the process.

We want this to be your space, and want you to have a say in planning what’s next for this important parcel. Think bandshell, pavilion, permanent restrooms and much, much more.

Now let’s take a small business tour!

  • Let’s start at 723 Milwaukee Ave., at Military Connection Collectibles. If you haven’t seen this combination store and museum yet, stop in. Craig has built something really special here, and he’s expanding. He bought his building recently, and is planning to complete the second story, build a garage and make a showroom visible from the street, bringing the store to Milwaukee Avenue. He presented his plans to the Plan Commission last month, and was featured in a NOW story this week.
  • Across the street, Spencer Allen and Tracy Quigley  have purchased 710 Milwaukee Ave. with plans to convert it to art studio and co-op space. Tracy is a lampworker — more details on this art form here — and plans to work on her craft in the space, while also leasing spots to other local artists. More details soon on this exciting project … and you can follow them on Facebook.
  • Let’s continue west to 2101 12th Avenue, the new home of Mikey V’s 4-Speeds, as it recently relocated from Milwaukee. Muscle cars have come downtown as part of this terrific reuse of a building at the former Line Material complex (more recently Johnson Health Tech, among other companies). The investment in their new home is significant. See for yourself on their Facebook page here.
  • Finally, Off the Beaten Path. This popular vinyl record store has begun his move from Bay View to downtown South Milwaukee, 1219 Milwaukee Ave. Chris is hoping to open soon, and potentially bring live music to the store as well. More details on their Facebook page.

So, lots going on. And these downtown wins are not without losses. For example, we’ve recently seen Milwaukee Gourmet House close, and the King’s Row liquor store is also closing (according to its signage).

But that’s how we are going to revitalize our city center: two or three steps forward, one step back. It will take years, just as it has in every other downtown revitalization effort everywhere, but with patience, hard work, diligence and focus, it will get done.

We’re on our way!


Filed under South Milwaukee

4 responses to “Downtown Momentum: Progress in Our City Center

  1. Melanie Poser

    “First, Milwaukee Avenue streetscaping, the $1.5 million project that will completely transform our Main Street, bringing new infrastructure and a new look and feel to the Avenue.” Kind of a stretch, wouldn’t you say Mayor?

    • It will absolutely change the look and feel. But it is just one part of our bigger efforts.

      • Frank Gratke

        I would change “It will” to “It has” . The real change is creativity that went in getting the money for the downtown street improvements. It was a Donor TIF. Which is not all that easy. This sets the stage to get economic development grants ,historical credits,small business loans and job credits.

  2. Frank Gratke

    Lets get into the time machine and go back to the month and year, August 1900. Eight year old Howe and his great aunt Lucy are going for a walk to the hardware store on 9th and Milwaukee.They did not have house numbers back then. Howie liked hardware tools verses candy. Both Aunt Lucy is in her late 70’s and Howie were going back soon to grandpa Dan’s house on millionaires row on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland.

    They go just as the street lights are turning off. South Milwaukee had it’s own power company back then. Aunt Lucy picks up the local newspaper. South Milwaukee had its own newspaper back then. They go bye Howe’s father’s plant Bucyrus , where Howe’s father Howard is overseeing the building the shovels for the Panama Canal. He has to overcome quality issues, create metallurgical updates and design the man machines interfaces.

    Howe, Howard Eells(1892-1978), grew up to build the city of Henderson, Nevada and built a plant for 14,000 employees in 5 months, it was the only supply of magnesium the United States had for World War II.The former mayors of South Milwaukee before are current one suggested bulldozing the downtown. Then build government assisted housing, that all quickly becomes low income housing.

    Please be patient and keep the downtown buildings.

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