Dave Reid

S. 2nd Street Redevelopment Concept Gains Momentum

By - Jun 29th, 2009 09:22 am
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S. 2nd Street After

S. 2nd Street After

The June 24th, 2009 Public Works Committee Meeting was a good day for the efforts to rebuild S. 2nd street as a complete street.  The Department of Public Works presented three options as possibilities for the rebuilding of S. 2nd Street.  The first option was to simply resurface the street, with essentially no pedestrian improvements.  The second option would resurface the street at the same width, but would included painted bike lanes, reduced travels lanes, and street trees.  The third option was the closest to being a complete street, it included narrowing the roadway with wider sidewalks, a street reconstruct, one travel lane in each direction, bike lanes, and street trees.  Clark Wontoch, of the Department of Public Works, indicated the department is open to the complete street option.

The complete street option is valuable, because it takes people in mind when constructing a street, not just automobile traffic, with the thought of creating a livable community, and spurring economic development.  Juli Kaufmann, a partner with Pragmatic Construction Co., described the concept saying “it looks at street as, a community, a neighborhood in itself,” and added that “it’s an economic opportunity.”  The idea being that a complete street is more than a street, it is a place, where people are comfortable to walk, sit out, chat, and interact.  It accomplishes this goal by utilizing street trees to create shade and shelter from the rain, by narrowing streets and minimizing travel lanes to slow traffic and increase pedestrian safety, and with aesthetic improvements to make the overall experience more appealing.  Alderman Jim Witkowiak explained that by making these type of improvements “we can have some real quality development, if we treat the street properly.”  The idea of utilizing TIF funds if the state wasn’t to support the project was suggested and championed by Alderman Robert Bauman as a way to insure this project moves forward.

Beyond rebuilding the street with people in mind, the investment itself sends a signal to developers and potential entrepreneurs that the City of Milwaukee is willing to invest in this area.  For an area of the city that hasn’t seen a lot of public investment, this could be a catalytic project that spurs new private investment and grows the neighborhood.  Nathan Bernstein, a property owner on S. 2nd Street, suggested that this plan could accelerate his plans to redevelop his property.  Although today it might not be obvious that the potential for economic development along S. 2nd Street is there, it is clear that local property owners and developers see the potential, and that with a push from the city the redevelopment of S. 2nd Street could begin.

To get and idea of the buildings that currently exist along S. 2nd Street, and the potential for redevelopment we’ve provided a photo gallery of the area.

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8 thoughts on “S. 2nd Street Redevelopment Concept Gains Momentum”

  1. Joe Klein says:

    The Common Council should mandate that any street reconstruction on potential streetcar routes should locate or relocate utilities so as to reduce potential future costs of installing a streetcar line. 2nd probably has tracks under the multiple layers of asphalt, but has also been sliced up with poorly placed fiber runs, electric vaults, sewer, water and gas.

    For example, if new concrete is pored, segment the slabs so as to allow easy placement of rail or precast rail guide-way slabs as shown below.

    Plan ahead of time and we will save the city money.

    http://www.max-boegl.de/boeglnet/web/show.jsp?nodeId=1000109&lang=en.

  2. Joe, that would be tremendously forward thinking! Something tells me it won’t happen though.

    It’s wonderful to see this project making progress. Major props to Juli Kaufmann for her efforts and patience. Dropping a potential Pragmatic project that could happen if there’s decent redevelopment was also a brilliant move. I hope that everyone involved continues to push this forward and also feel empowered to put work in on other issues, knowing that they can truly make a big difference.

  3. Alex says:

    we need more glass and steel buildings there. More modernization needed,

  4. Dave Reid says:

    @Alex What this street offers is in addition to the great historic buildings, is many lots that could be developed, possibly of glass and steel. Alderman Bauman suggested a TIF for the street which I think is a good idea because it would likely promote new infill construction. Then you could have a wonderful mixture of styles.

  5. KS says:

    Having made the above picture, I’m especially happy with this news and I’m very glad people such as Juli Kaufman are pushing for these changes. 2nd Street has tremendous potential and could form a great hub for the surrounding neighborhoods. If anything, my picture understates what 2nd Street could become, since it really only includes public improvements and does not depict any private-sector developments that such changes may attract. If the completion of 2nd Street coincides with an upswing in our economy, then hopefully the area will be well positioned to take advantage of any resumption of development activity.

    Hearing this news I’m very hopeful that we can make 2nd Street a better place to be, rather than a marginally faster (and less bumpy) place to pass through.

    -Kieran

  6. Victor Ray says:

    This has taken a lot of work to get where we are today. Bravo to the potential TIF, Ald. Baumann is recommending. This street faire development will be the key to the redevelopment of a once vibrant community. Historic Walkers Point/5th Ward will be the show piece to the City of Milwaukee and the diversification of the area will attract creative new blood to help renew this great City of Milwaukee. I am so glad that all of us are part of this history in the making but quodos to Juli Kaufman and Ursula for their undying dedication to making this right. Let’s cut this ribbon and get on to the development.

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @Victor Agreed I think this could really push Walker’s Point forward. It could definitely spark new development in the area and better connect to downtown as well.

  8. Randy says:

    They would be fools not to do this. Just take a look around at other successful cities worldwide and you’ll notice a focus on people and pedestrianism before automobile accommodation. In no way, shape, or form is Milwaukee a difficult city to get around in the same manner that Chicago or San Francisco are. Milwaukee has an advantage over any other city in the state: it was built for people, by people. People desire city living. Milwaukee is a cool city and renovating 2nd Street in the complete street form would only benefit EVERYONE there. It’s time for Milwaukee to do this. Let the good times roll! (P.S. – John Norquist would be all over this!)

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