Plan en­vi­sions changes to har­bor re­gion

Pro­posal first step to­ward de­vel­op­ment tak­ing place

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - FRONT PAGE - TOM DAYKIN

A har­bor front River­Walk con­nect­ing to a park, and a mix of light in­dus­trial build­ings, of­fices and hous­ing, are among the fu­ture uses en­vi­sioned in a new plan that would dra­mat­i­cally trans­form Mil­wau­kee’s port area.

The projects pre­sented in the pro­posed land and water use plan are con­cep­tual. They lack spe­cific de­vel­op­ers, cost es­ti­mates or time frames.

How­ever, such plans, over­seen by city of­fi­cials, are typ­i­cally the first step to­ward large de­vel­op­ments even­tu­ally oc­cur­ring. That was the pat­tern for the Menomonee Val­ley, the down­town River­Walk and the Park East cor­ri­dor.

Mayor Tom Bar­rett’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, as well as many pri­vate in­vestors, view Mil­wau­kee’s in­ner har­bor area as hav­ing that same long-term de­vel­op­ment po­ten­tial.

The area is bor­dered roughly by S. 1st

St., the lake­front, the Mil­wau­kee River and Bay St./Becher St.

That cov­ers a big piece of the Walker’s Point neigh­bor­hood, where new apart­ments and other de­vel­op­ments are oc­cur­ring. The plan­ning area also crosses the Kin­nick­in­nic River into a small north­ern por­tion of the pop­u­lar Bay View neigh­bor­hood.

The new plan will need Plan Com­mis­sion and Com­mon Coun­cil ap­proval, with that re­view sched­uled for De­cem­ber and Jan­uary. It will likely be posted on­line by Oct. 26, with an open house in early Novem­ber, said Dan Adams, plan­ning di­rec­tor at Har­bor District Inc., a non­profit group lead­ing the re­de­vel­op­ment ef­forts.

Adams pro­vided an early look at the plan dur­ing a Thurs­day pre­sen­ta­tion to the Mil­wau­kee Board of Har­bor Com­mis­sion­ers.

The even­tual trans­for­ma­tion could cre­ate an es­ti­mated 5,600 jobs and $864 mil­lion of in­creased prop­erty val­ues, he said.

“Ob­vi­ously, that will take some time to come to fruition,” Adams told board mem­bers.

The sin­gle largest site would be the 47-acre for­mer Mil­wau­kee Solvay Coke Co. site, 311 E. Green­field Ave.

The Solvay site is pri­mar­ily south of E. Green­field Ave., along the har­bor and Kin­nick­in­nic River, roughly two blocks east of 1st St. It could be com­bined with a for­mer coal stor­age area that the city owns just to the east, south of the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Mil­wau­kee’s School of Fresh­wa­ter Sci­ences.

The plan en­vi­sions light in­dus­trial and of­fice build­ings on that com­bined site’s north­ern por­tion. Mixed-use res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial build­ings could be on the south­ern part.

There also would be a 7- to 10-acre water­front park.

A big chal­lenge is ac­cess to the site. That’s now lim­ited to E. Green­field Ave., with a low rail­road over­pass mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for large trucks to reach any fu­ture light in­dus­trial build­ings.

One pos­si­ble so­lu­tion: ex­tend­ing E. Mitchell St. on to the site’s south­ern end with a new rail­road un­der­pass, Adams said.

That would re­quire re­lo­cat­ing a Mil­wau­kee County Tran­sit Sys­tem fa­cil­ity at 1710-1716 S. Kin­nick­in­nic Ave., where E. Mitchell St. would be ex­tended, he said.

“I think that’s crit­i­cal,” said Tim Hoel­ter, board pres­i­dent.

A We En­er­gies af­fil­i­ate bought the the Solvay site in April for $4 mil­lion and is over­see­ing an en­vi­ron­men­tal cleanup. The util­ity op­er­ated a gas works on the site decades ago.

The water­front park would con­nect to a new River­Walk that would run roughly 3 miles along the Mil­wau­kee River, har­bor and Kin­nick­in­nic River, from the E. Pitts­burgh Ave. bridge to S. Chase Ave.

In­clud­ing a sec­tion on both sides of the Kin­nick­in­nic River, that River­Walk would to­tal 4.5 miles, Adams said. It would con­nect to four new ca­noe and kayak launches, as well as a har­bor boat launch that could even­tu­ally be added near the end of E. Wash­ing­ton St., he said.

Also, the area near Nidera’s har­bor front grain el­e­va­tor, 960 E. Bay St., could be de­vel­oped for light in­dus­trial use, a ma­rina and mixed-use res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial build­ings.

Part of that area in­cludes the city-owned Grand Trunk site, where a wet­land is be­ing re­stored. That larger area serves as an im­por­tant link between Walker’s Point and Bay View, Adams said.

Other pro­posed im­prove­ments in­clude new streets and bike paths through­out the Har­bor District.

The in­ner har­bor area has been at­tract­ing more at­ten­tion from pri­vate in­vestors in re­cent years.

Wan­gard Part­ners Inc. in Novem­ber opened Fresh­wa­ter Plaza, a fourstory build­ing with 76 apart­ments and around 16,500 square feet of street-level com­mer­cial space, at 1320 S. 1st St.

A 65,000-square-foot Cer­mak Fresh Mar­ket opened in June at 1236 S. Bar­clay St., at the Fresh­wa­ter Plaza site. Ad­di­tional re­tail build­ings are planned.

Also, the for­mer Horny Goat Hideaway brew pub site, which over­looks the Kin­nick­in­nic River at 2011-2029 and 2067 S. 1st St., was sold in April for $3.6 mil­lion to a group af­fil­i­ated with Brownsville-based Michels Corp., an un­der­ground util­ity con­trac­tor.

Those new own­ers haven’t yet dis­closed a re­de­vel­op­ment plan for that 4-acre site.


Peo­ple run­ning Thurs­day in the 1900 block of S. Kin­nick­in­nic Ave. pass the for­mer Mil­wau­kee Solvay Coke Co. site, which is un­der­go­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal re­me­di­a­tion and cleanup. For more pho­tos, go to

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