Downtown Public Gathering Space: A Plan to Bring the Community Together

It’s a summer Thursday evening in South Milwaukee, and you’re looking forward to a stop at the Downtown Market on the way home from work. You park along Milwaukee Avenue.

As you walk toward the vendors along 11th Avenue, you see a group of people sipping local craft beer around a firepit. “Why not?” you think, as a couple of friends motion you over to their table. You stop at the outdoor bar, share a joke with the bartender, and join your friends for a cold one.

You soon continue on your mission, walking past Da Crusher Statue and into the farmers’ market. By now, you can hear music in the distance. But first things first: It’s time to grab dinner. Should it be Mexican, Chinese, or maybe a freshly made burger? As you decide, you pick up some fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce for tomorrow night’s meal, and can’t resist the kettle corn, roasted nuts and honey either. You make your purchases, walk across a new 11th crosswalk, and look for a place to sit down.

You walk into the covered pavilion, the perfect place to enjoy dinner. You see a couple more friends and sit next to them, out of the sunlight and near the fireplace. Now enveloped by the music, you look east and see what’s in front of you: a well-manicutred grassy knoll, with picnic tables leading to a large stage, where a local jazz group has kids of all ages out of their seats dancing. You look to your left and note the restrooms; you’ll visit those before you head out. Beyond them, you take note of the alley — and artwork. Colorful murals stretch down the block, providing a beautiful boundary to one of the coolest new places in the South Shore.

This is vision for the new downtown South Milwaukee gathering place.

Last week, the South Milwaukee Common Council got a chance to weigh in on the concept plan for the space planned for the area near 11th and Milwaukee Avenues — which, if fully built out, could look and feel very similar to what I described above. Phase one is the focus for now.

I’m excited about what they saw, and I hope you are too. This will be the latest transformational deveopment for our city center, and I’m hoping to see shovels in the ground for phase one next year.

From the South Milwaukee website

In early 2020, the City of South Milwaukee, in partnership with the Bucyrus Foundation, announced plans to acquire the property at 1919 12th Avenue and to invest in a public plaza at 11th and Madison Avenue.  

The property at 1919 12th Avenue is being transformed into the Bucyrus Club, an event space and museum with Skyline Catering and the South Milwaukee Industrial Museum. Construction is underway, and it will open in the summer of 2021.  

The second portion of the project is the site at 11th and Madison Avenue, space is currently used for the Downtown Market, a beer garden, and as the home for events like Crusherfest and the Festival of Trees. In early 2020, the City, looking to make the site into a more permanent space, hired a design firm to help determine the future of the site, in partnership with the community at large and a number of stakeholders. After several stakeholder committee meetings and two public surveys, the developed design can be seen above.  

The redevelopment is likely to be phased, with the initial focus on the “event lawn” area as phase one. Plans for the first phase include construction of a stage and covered pavilion, with restrooms, and creation of an improved lawn seating area. Improvements to the adjacent areas — which could include a beer garden, heated seating area, improvements to 11th Avenue and the addition of an activated alley space with murals — are in the City’s long-term plans.  

To view the full master plan presentation from Saiki Design, click here. The Plan Commission, Common Council, and Joint Review Board will be exploring this potential project further in 2021. Check back for updates! 

Thank you to everyone who took part in the feedback process. More than 720 people offered their thoughts and opinions throughout the process, and we’ve incorporated that feedback into a design we think the entire community can be proud of.

Check out Milwaukee Journal Sentinel coverage here.

Comments Off on Downtown Public Gathering Space: A Plan to Bring the Community Together

Filed under South Milwaukee

Comments are closed.