Jeramey Jannene

WisDOT Open House on Future Parking Lots, Parks, or ?

By - Jan 9th, 2009 11:41 am
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WisDOT is taking the steps to prepare to issue an RFP for airspace leases underneath the Marquette Interchange and Interstate 794.  They’re looking for public input on what should be included, and this is our chance to really say we want something better underneath the freeway that separates the Third Ward and the Milwaukee Intermodal Station from the rest of downtown.

While a mixed-use building probably won’t work underneath an elevated freeway, there are other potential uses other than gravel.  The most profitable for the state and county is presumably parking, but there are other options I’ve heard discussed.  Multiple times people have suggested putting parks.  Now I’m sure a park under the 794 wouldn’t rival Cathedral Square or Pere Marquette in quality, but it might be better than more surface parking (which would hurt nearby parking structure owners).  The challenge with a park is the opportunity cost of giving up leasable land , which makes it hard to advocate for a potentially lackluster park.

The idea I like the most is the creation of a barrier between the streets and the parking lots with rotating public art from area students.  Mix that with upward shooting lights and more contemporary designed fixtures to achieve an experience under the freeway that is similar to walking along the Riverwalk.  Make the area as visually appealing as possible to reduce the negative impact the massive cement structure has on adjacent land.  What do you think?

As it appears now, the land under 794 isn’t attractive to walk through.  This is a chance to really suggest something that would make better.

While the state might still be thinking parking as the likely use  (their invitation to the event includes a photo of cars parking under an elevated freeway), if we as citizens ever had a chance to impact a WisDOT project, it’s probably now.  I would imagine suggesting tearing down the freeway won’t help, so let’s take this chance to voice input while we have it.

The details for the upcoming meetings are listed below:

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Southeast Regional Office has scheduled two open-house public meetings to discuss a new and innovative process of developing a plan to maximize the utility of the land under the Marquette Interchange and other WisDOT controlled right of way in downtown Milwaukee.

The meetings will be held on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. at the Milwaukee Public Market – 2nd floor cafeteria, 400 N. Water Street, Milwaukee and Tuesday, January 27, 2009 from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Milwaukee Intermodal Station, 433 W. St. Paul Avenue, Milwaukee.

WisDOT is interested in ideas that can continue the past revenue stream to the state/county, provide a public benefit and/or encourage economic development.  The purpose of the meeting is present the specific locations of land tentatively available for lease and encourage the public to complete a Request for Information (RFI). The RFI enables public and private interest in these parcels as well as helps to develop the evaluation criteria for the Request for Proposal (RFP).

Displays of each parcel of land will be available for review along with a handout detailing the process for submitting the RFI forms related to the use of this land. WisDOT and Milwaukee County staff will be available both days to provide information and answer questions. The same information will be presented at both meetings.

We look forward to your participation in this important meeting.  If you have any questions, or if you cannot attend the meeting but would like to find out more about the Marquette Air Space Lease Considerations, please contact Dave Kitzman at (262) 548-5941 or send an email to david.kitzman@dot.state.wi.us.

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11 thoughts on “WisDOT Open House on Future Parking Lots, Parks, or ?”

  1. lars says:

    As a semi-frequent user of the Intermodal station, I think it would be great if there could be some concessions in the area, especially a coffee shop. For an area that sees so many travelers each day, it only makes sense to have a few fast food restaurants, or at least something more than the 2 over-priced vending machines inside the station.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    Agreed. There has been a dispute over the type of restaurants that might go into the building between the Alderman Bauman and WisDOT (I think that is the other party) which I believe is slowing the process down.

  3. Aleksandr says:

    I think either a shop of some sort or maybe a giant plasma screen type billboard with lots of powerfull lights. We need to convert our cities into more modern and contemporary places.

  4. TRR says:

    Unfortunately, you can’t put buildings under the elevated freeway. It creates too many issues if/when either the freeway or building need repair. Sadly surface parking may be the best use. Also, there are still plenty of vacant lots and surface parking lots in that area that are not under the freeway…If there is no demand for those to be developed I can’t see there being a demand to build under a freeway.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    Yea I’d agree it isn’t likely for any “development” under the freeways but, the idea of lighting it, and using it as a place to display public art, basically to make the environment more pedestrian friendly is well worth it. In my head I remember a little somewhat silly walk under the freeway in Dallas that makes it nicer than just being under the freeway.

  6. MilwaukeeD says:

    I hope that this Open House is not just about the land under the freeway that DOT controls. They have some nice parcels at 5th/St. Paul and 7th/Michigan too. The invitation is not clear if those will be discussed, it just says “other WisDOT controlled right of way in downtown Milwaukee”.

  7. Joel says:

    shoulda tunneled 794

  8. Jude says:

    How about a bike rental stand so people can take advantage of the Hank Aaron trail?

  9. Dave Reid says:

    @Jude I’d like to see the consider a bike-sharing program similar to what Paris has recently begun. And a location near the station makes sense to me.

  10. Paul Theis says:

    re 5. (above): Pedestrian-friendly public art seems like a good idea. How about combining that with some of those new, revenue-producing, high-tech interactive billboards?

    re 6. (above): Speaking of Paris, I wonder if there might not be some interest here in Milwaukee for doing our own version of what I understand has become a popular late-night tradition in Paris: rollerblading through the streets, around or after midnight, on a designated, police-protected course, maybe one night a week during the summer. (I forget the exact details.) Surely there must be a convenient place for rollerblade rentals downtown or in the Third Ward.

  11. Paul Theis says:

    I suppose I probably should not just be giving my ideas away … [:)] If you are interested in this one, though, I believe the Paris tradition includes musical accompaniment via large boomboxes carried on the shoulders of some rollerbladers. But maybe we could have our own live enertainment? Anyway, why not take advantage of our uncrowded — and well-maintained (of course, we would have to confirm this latter when choosing the route) — streets to celebrate youth (although all ages participate in Paris, I believe most are young people), life, community, and the joys of urban living?

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