Gathering of notables tracks the route of proposed streetcar. And HGTV comes to town to film a straw-bale home.
More than 50 people gathered on a torrid Tuesday evening, September 10th, at the headquarters of Stone Creek Cafe, 422 N. 5th St. for an informal “Milwaukee Streetcar Social & Route Walk” led by City Engineer Jeff Polenske.
Stone Creek is but a stone’s throw from the glassy facade of the Milwaukee Intermodal Station; its 19th century industrial bulk is overshadowed by the elevated freeway that abuts it to the south. But it is there, under the freeway, in this wasteland of urban space, that our new streetcars will rest at night and be serviced and cleaned.
“We will be able to store three to four vehicles there initially,” Polenske told the crowd, while pointing to the abyss next door. An additional facility, or perhaps an addition to the facility will be needed to house future cars for the proposed and yet-unfunded route extensions.
This is the perfect location for a maintenance facility, said Dan Casanova of the Department of City Development, who added that his department has determined that “more and more people are coming to Milwaukee without a car.” Many of them are arriving by train, just a block away, so why not whisk them aboard the streetcar right at the station?
With the location of the train shed established, Polenske led the group on the streetcar’s route, which is to say, they headed east from the Intermodal Station directly toward the Milwaukee River, where the bridge had been taken out of service just days earlier for the St. Paul Vertical Lift Bridge Reconstruction project, set to run until June, 2014.
The tourists took the recommended detour over the river using the Clybourn bridge and made their first stop on the “Social” part of the walk at Thief Wine Shop & Bar at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St. Like the proposed streetcar shed, the public market was built alongside the elevated freeway on otherwise wasted land, and it has certainly enlivened the Historic Third Ward since its dedication in October, 2005.
The southbound streetcar will bend the corner by the market, working its way down N. Broadway, but it will head northbound at N. Milwaukee St. as did the walkers, some fortified with wine.
Next stop was the Zen on Seven atop the Hotel Metro, 411 E. Mason St., which offered a rooftop view of the city in a leisurely setting. There, former Common Council aide Alex Runner, who had joined our group, announced that he would be leaving Northwestern Mutual after just a couple of years to take a new job at Johnson Controls, also downtown.
Lobbyist Gary R. Goyke, who represents pro-rail groups like All Aboard Wisconsin and Wisconsin Urban and Rail Transit Association, also visited with the streetcar supporters who included Ian Abston of NEWaukee. Guests dined on various hot and cold appetizers in the lounge. Most were average, interested citizens, judging from their small talk and social interactions. One outlier was a man in a red sweatshirt who made many, many comments about many, many subjects. These included the streetcar, which apparently he is agin’.
Kris Martinsek and Jeff Bentoff, consultants working on the streetcar project, handed out a map of the route and discussed the origins of the project dating back to the Mayor’s first proposal in 2006 through the current final engineering process.
Much of the extraordinary opposition to seemingly any form of public transit in Milwaukee stems from the local AM talk radio hosts. Other cities faced similar opposition, and their radio talkers found other things to complain about when those cities opened successful streetcar lines.
The rail situation today reminded Martinsek of the battles she underwent to get approval for Mayor John Norquist’s Riverwalk initiative.
“That was a long battle,” she reminisced. “People would say, ‘who is going to want to spend $45,000 on a condo on the river?”
Finally, the event was over — except for the unusual man in the red shirt, who asked the receptionist at the Hotel Metro, “could you tell me how to get to the Amtrak station?”
Odd, indeed, since he had just walked the route.
HGTV to Feature Urban Milwaukee Home
A crew from cable network HGTV was in town on Tuesday, September 10th to film an urban Milwaukee home for an upcoming 3-½ minute episode of its series, “You Live in What?” to be presented sometime during its third season.
Viewers are still on year two of the show, which has covered unusual residences nationwide including a lighthouse, brothel, train, cemetery [not that unusual, in fact], sugar mill and dumpster.
The Milwaukee home will introduce viewers to the straw bale residence of Julilly Kohler, located on the banks of the Milwaukee River at the Kane Commons development that occupied her for much of the last decade.
Producer Sean Whitley traveled from Dallas, where he is based, to a few locations in the Dairy State, including Milwaukee, where his stops included the Bronze Fonz, which he said on Facebook is “kinda creepy-looking.”
So the man has good taste, which is surely helpful in his job of entering people’s homes with the purpose of documenting their unusual characteristics and owners. The Kohler residence had a couple of features that apparently enchanted him, includingleftover bales of hay from the home’s 2008 construction. Whitley and his three-man crew spent a number of hours climbing through the home, including a foray up to the green roof of the building, a place I have felt no urge to explore. I’ll wait until I see it on TV.
Film Fever Strikes Town
Heather Aldrich, the Development and Marketing Director of Running Rebels, took a lunch break on Tuesday, September 10th to give some friend-to-friend advice to her good buddy and fellow-redhead Mary Freeman.
The pair gathered at Elsa’s on the Park, 833 N. Jefferson St. The spot, which has long defined urbanity in Milwaukee, is owned by Freeman’s boyfriend Karl Kopp.
Freeman is working on a documentary called “Zorba the Buddha,” she says. In it she calls for “the immediate legalization of cannabis,” reasoning that the anti-marijuana laws are causing disruption in the urban Milwaukee society and economy. “Black youth are singled out, especially” she said, adding that marijuana could prove to be a good cash crop here. We’ll see if she gets any attention during the upcoming 5th annual Milwaukee Film Festival.
Freeman’s message may have a political resonance in New York City, where Bill de Blasio took a surprise lead in the mayoral primary race there. He campaigned on a platform opposing the police department’s stop-and-frisk policies that have ensnared many — particularly minority male youths.
Aldrich said her interest in the matter is strictly personal, and has no bearing on her day-to-day duties.
Former Milwaukeean to Head NYC Museum
Dr. Glenn Adamson, the curator of Milwaukee’s Chipstone Foundation from 2000-2005, was named Director of the Museum of Art and Design in New York on September 4th. He will begin his duties there in October, after resettling from London where he has been heading the research department of the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Adamson, while in Milwaukee, was also an adjunct curator at the Milwaukee Art Museum, where he worked on a number of projects including the award-winning Industrial Strength Design: How Brooks Stevens Shaped Your World (2003). … Toby Kamps, a Milwaukeean by birth, has been the curator of modern art at the Menil Collection in Houston since 2010, but he still visits Milwaukee from time to time. His father, Charles Q. Kamps, is a retired partner at Quarles and Brady law firm. Care to guess what the “Q” in his middle name stands for? It is a small town, indeed, ain’a?
Scene on the Street
The reopening of the Pleasant Street bridge is welcome for urban Milwaukeeans, and should be a boon for two apartment buildings soon to open east of the bridge. Avante Apartments, at the northwest corner of N. Jackson and E. Pleasant streets, looks nearly ready for occupancy, while the East Terrace Apartments at 1530 N. Jackson St. is not far behind. Across from Avante, a gut-rehab is taking place at 1608 N. Jackson St. It is one of a number similar projects happening in the vicinity of the new developments.
“Gut Rehab” projects involve the complete reconstruction of a building, most often a frame duplex or single-family home, of which there is an abundance in this city. These are among the most expensive remodelings to undertake, but unlike the patch-and-repair method of incremental changes, these are much more substantial — and beneficial for the community. You don’t go through the expense of replacing all walls, floors, ceilings, plumbing and electricity just to rent the place out for keg parties, let’s put it that way.
Other similar projects underway in the immediate vicinity include a two-family residence under new ownership at the southeast corner of E. Pleasant and N. Cass streets, a single-family home in the 900 block of E. Kewaunee St., and another 19th century home in the 800 block of E. Kewaunee St. [In case the address does not ring a bell, Kewaunee Street, one of the oldest in the city, lies one block south of E. Brady Street and runs just four blocks, spanning N. Cass St. and N. Humboldt Blvd. Another project is underway in the 1100 block of E. Kane Pl.
Correction: The story originally indicated Karl Kopp was involved in the making of movie “Zorba the Buddha,” this was incorrect he is not involved in the film.
More about the Milwaukee Streetcar
For more information on project details, how the operator will be selected, what the vehicles will be like, and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $28 Million Spent on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 19th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Getting Installed - Jeramey Jannene - May 12th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Gets Waiver on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 17th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Rails Being Welded - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 7th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: City Won’t Delay Streetcar for County - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 28th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: County Board Okays Bid for Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Steel Has Arrived - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 16th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Should County Operate Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 8th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Track Construction Starts in April - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 17th, 2017
- Streetsblog: 80 Transit Projects in 2017 - Angie Schmitt - Feb 6th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: The Milwaukee Streetcar is Hiring - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Project Receives Federal Grant - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 12th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Cincinnati Streetcar Opens - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 19th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Okays Streetcar to Bucks Arena - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 6th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: $6.5 Million in Streetcar Savings - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 26th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Donovan Lies About Streetcar Suit - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 15th, 2016
- Eyes on Milwaukee: BID Sells Streetcar-Related Development - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 15th, 2016
- Murphy’s Law: Do Millennials Oppose the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Dec 15th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Pennsylvania Company Wins Streetcar Contract - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 13th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: City Accepts $14 Million Federal Streetcar Grant - Michael Horne - Oct 29th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Dies - Bruce Murphy - Aug 28th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Scott Walker Aids Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Construction Starts in October - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: The Strange Politics of Anti-Streetcar-ites - Bruce Murphy - Jun 18th, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Bucks Plan Envisions Arena Streetcar - Michael Horne - Apr 8th, 2015
- A Short History of Milwaukee’s Old Streetcar System - Ken Smith - Mar 31st, 2015
- Plenty of Horne: Davis Sets, Cancels Meeting on Streetcar - Michael Horne - Mar 17th, 2015
- Back in the News: Anti-Streetcar Petition Drive Fails - Bruce Murphy - Mar 5th, 2015
- Friday Photos: Streetcar Signing Is Quite a Celebration - Michael Horne - Feb 13th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Milwaukee Streetcar Approved - Jeramey Jannene - Feb 10th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who is “Lobbying” For the Streetcar? - Bruce Murphy - Feb 5th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Will Streetcar Help The Inner City? - Bruce Thompson - Feb 4th, 2015
- Back in the News: City Attorney Says Streetcar Petitions Might be Moot - Bruce Murphy - Jan 30th, 2015
- Data Wonk: Millennials And The Streetcar - Bruce Thompson - Jan 27th, 2015
- Op-Ed: Why I Support the Streetcar - Russell Rossetto - Jan 26th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Responses Shows Wide Support - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Approved, but Held - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 21st, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Koch-Funded Group Backs Anti-Streetcar Drive - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Streetcar Backers Say They Have the Votes - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 20th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Who Is Funding the Anti-Streetcar Effort? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 20th, 2015
- Op Ed: Why the Streetcar Won’t Work - Samuel Jensen - Jan 14th, 2015
- Murphy’s Law: Will Anti-Streetcar Referendum Succeed? - Bruce Murphy - Jan 9th, 2015
- The Story Behind the Streetcar Referendum - Michael Horne and Bruce Murphy - Jan 8th, 2015
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Delays Streetcar Until January - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 16th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Takes No Action on Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 10th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Committee Approves Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 9th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: RACM Approves Tax Funding for Streetcar - Michael Horne - Dec 2nd, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: How to Sell the Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 28th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Next Stops For The Streetcar - Michael Horne - Nov 24th, 2014
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Barrett Moving Forward With Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 18th, 2014
- Plenty of Horne: Who Will Be Streetcar Operator? - Michael Horne - May 8th, 2014
- Back in the News: A Streetcar Named Cooperation? - Dave Reid - Apr 27th, 2014
- Streetsblog: How a Streetcar Spurs Development - Angie Schmitt - Nov 3rd, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Streetcar Social - Michael Horne - Sep 12th, 2013
- Republicans Move to Kill Milwaukee Streetcar - Jeramey Jannene - May 9th, 2013
- Plenty of Horne: Mayor Says Streetcar is “Trojan Horse” - Michael Horne - Apr 17th, 2013
- Streetcar Meeting on Tuesday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 29th, 2012
- Donovan’s New Anti-Streetcar Allies - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 16th, 2012
- Battle of the Bobs: Donovan vs Bauman Streetcar Press Conference - Jeramey Jannene - May 18th, 2012
- Milwaukee Streetcar Hearing at Frontier Airlines Center - Jeramey Jannene - Nov 15th, 2011
- Important Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee Streetcar Meetings this Week - Dave Reid - Nov 14th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Passes Common Council, Proceeds to Final Engineering - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 26th, 2011
- Alderman Donovan Proposes Delaying the Streetcar Project - Dave Reid - Jul 19th, 2011
- Barrett says Streetcar is an investment in growing Milwaukee - Patti Wenzel - Jul 13th, 2011
- Keep the Milwaukee Streetcar Moving Forward - Jeramey Jannene - Jul 8th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar at Apex - Jeramey Jannene - Jun 16th, 2011
- Milwaukee Streetcar Takes Key Step Forward - Jeramey Jannene - May 6th, 2010
- Streetcars and Trams Around the World - Dave Reid - Feb 1st, 2010
- Milwaukee Streetcar Meeting This Thursday - Jeramey Jannene - Oct 5th, 2009
- Downtown Streetcar Open House - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Routes Unveiled by Mayor Barrett - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 21st, 2009
- Common Council Creates Streetcar Committee - Dave Reid - Jun 18th, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Round-Up - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 19th, 2009
- Vote For Your Favorite Milwaukee Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 25th, 2009
- Design Your Own Streetcar Route - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 23rd, 2009
- Milwaukee Streetcar Map - Jeramey Jannene - Mar 21st, 2009
- Streetcars Coming to Milwaukee - Dave Reid - Mar 14th, 2009
- Palomar or Streetcar? - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 22nd, 2009