Edgar Mendez

Big Dreams for Menomonee Valley

Second redevelopment plan for area envisions Riverwalk and food and beverage manufacturing district.

By , Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service - Mar 3rd, 2015 10:12 am
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Visitors pore over an aerial map at an open house to preview development of the Menomonee Valley, held at the Zimmerman Architectural Studios. (Photo by Alhaji Camara)

Visitors pore over an aerial map at an open house to preview development of the Menomonee Valley, held at the Zimmerman Architectural Studios. (Photo by Alhaji Camara)

Draped across a table in the center of a room at Zimmerman Architectural Studios, 2122 W. Mount Vernon Ave., was a huge aerial view map of the Menomonee Valley. Evidence of the development that has occurred since the original plan for the valley was unveiled in 1998 was everywhere, including a new park, soccer fields, businesses and bridges connecting Silver City and Clarke Square to the valley.

But there are still 100 acres of undeveloped land in the valley, according to Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners (MVP). MVP is collaborating with the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and numerous nonprofits and businesses to craft a development plan for the next 10 years.

Menomonee 2.0, the blueprint for development of the 100 acres, includes a new riverwalk along the Menomonee, establishment of a food and beverage district, and a tilting of development priorities to the center and eastern portions of the valley.

The plan is to develop the food and beverage district in the eastern section of the valley along Bruce and Pierce streets, which are connected to the South Side.

Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, said 300 acres of land, including 60 acres of parks and trails, have already been redeveloped in the valley.

Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners, said 300 acres of land, including 60 acres of parks and trails, have already been redeveloped in the valley.

According to Zetts, the establishment by MATC and FaB Wisconsin of the Food Maker School and Center of Excellence at 8th Street and National Avenue, near the Bruce and Pierce industrial zone, could help attract food and beverage manufacturers to the area.

“Those companies can also draw workers from the near South Side,” Zetts said.

First though, the area must be rezoned as industrial only. Currently, it is zoned for industrial, educational and residential use, according to Vanessa Koster, planning manager at the City of Milwaukee Department of City Development.

“We need a buffer to keep that area manufacturing focused,” Koster said.

The other target area for the food and beverage district is the valley’s central portion, closer to Potawatomi Casino and Palermo’s Pizza. The idea for that area is to create a hub of companies similar to Palermo’s, which offers retail and café space in addition to production facilities. Zetts said the area where the Lakefront Brewery is located is a nearby example.

Surprisingly, no residential development was recommended for the valley. Burnham Park resident Justin Bielinski, who’s running for 8th District alderman, said some sections of the valley seemed like good spots for residential development, considering the easy access to bike trails and other draws.

“It seems like the perfect place to build residences,” said Bielinski, who said, overall, he was impressed with the plan for the area.

There had been previous talks of redeveloping vacant buildings along St. Paul Street into condominiums, but business leaders in the area voiced strong resistance, Koster said.

There’s no word yet on what will become of the property that formerly housed the Cargill beef slaughterhouse, which closed in July, but the 2.0 plan recommends that the land be used for light industry.

Improved access to the valley is also a key aspect of the new plan, including better pedestrian access from the 6th Street Viaduct and a pedestrian bridge connecting the Harley Davidson Museum to the valley.

A large part of the valley’s rejuvenation during the past decade was creation of the newest Urban Ecology Center and Three Bridges Park, and expansion of the Hank Aaron State Trail into the valley, among other projects that helped the area become a haven for urbanites. Those developments were funded by the $26 million “From the Ground Up” project, which resulted in the area becoming a hub for nature enthusiasts and others looking for an escape from the city.

The plan to add a riverwalk along the Menomonee to those amenities excited Diane Wais, who lives in the North Shore. She’s part of a hiking group, and one of the members’ favorite places to traverse is the section of the Hank Aaron State Trail that runs through the valley.

“I’m not into industry, but I’m into more green space to hike on,” said a smiling Wais.

Wais added that she is looking forward to seeing the grand plans for the valley come to fruition.

“It’s all doable,” said environmental engineer Bob Peschel, a consultant for the plan. Peschel said the entertainment amenities, as well as industries targeted for the valley, make sense for the land.

And while Zetts acknowledged that all the plans may not come to fruition, recent history in the area makes it a good bet that most of them will.

“We’re building on the momentum,” Zetts said. “There’s a lot of people committed to making the valley even better.”

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

Projects from Menomonee 1.0

4 thoughts on “Big Dreams for Menomonee Valley”

  1. i have since spoken with the Menomonee Valley Partners and learned the area they wanted to restrict residential development is east of the Cesar Chavez corridor. I favor residential west of this area near the Urban Ecology Center just south of the valley. I am on board with the job-creation focus of the industrial zoning farther east. Great work by all involved in their exciting valley plan. Can’t wait to further connect the Silver City business district to the great happenings in the valley.

  2. Justin Bielinski says:

    After speaking with the Menomonee Valley Partners, it was clarified that the portion where they wanted to restrict residential development is east of Cesar Chavez, which I am on board with. While I favor some residential development west of this area along Pierce St just south of the valley, I agree that job creation and industrial zoning are preferable for the eastern portion of the southern valley. Great work by all involved for their visionary plan to finish what was started over a decade ago, renewing the once-desolate valley.

  3. CK James says:

    Opportunity for job creation and potentially successful business ventures seem promising in the areas along the river, from Pota to the Harley museum and beyond. Seems like a great way to attract casino visitors as well as the increasing number of bicyclists/hikers using the newly retooled paths under the 6th st. bridge.

    If I were an ambitious venture capitalist, I’d finance a vegan lunch/snack stop spot , complete with outdoor tables and a few bike racks, build your own flavored water bar (think fresh cucumbers and strawberries), snow cone stand and trail mix vending machine.

  4. dave says:

    what about the smell of all the garbage trucks across the river from the city of milwaukee.

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