Brendan O’Brien

$1 Million Plan to Upgrade Near West Side

Milwaukee Police, Marquette University and Harley-Davidson involved in project to redevelop area and cut crime.

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The near west side as seen from the roof of the Milwaukee Academy of Sciences, 2000 W. Kilbourn Ave. (Photo by Adam Carr)

The near west side as seen from the roof of the Milwaukee Academy of Sciences, 2000 W. Kilbourn Ave. (Photo by Adam Carr)

Melvin Mitchell sat on a stoop intently watching a group of young men and woman congregate across the street outside of a tobacco shop at the corner of 27th Street and Kilbourn Avenue.

“There’s so much going on around here that I don’t know what to say … the crime runs deep … and the police do nothing,” he said as he sat outside a row of boarded-up storefronts.

Moments before the 78-year-old made his daily mid-morning stroll along 27th Street, city officials were having their own gathering nearby at the Harley-Davidson facility, where they unveiled a plan they hope will address Mitchell’s core concerns and revitalize the near west side area.

The three-year, $1 million initiative, known as Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime (PARC), was created by the Near West Side Partners, a nonprofit organization supported by Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson, Marquette University, MillerCoors and Potawatomi Business Development Corporation.

“If we find a way to work together … I think great things can happen,” said Marquette University President Michael Lovell at the press conference, noting that the area is home to about 40,000 residents and 200 businesses. “We have all of the elements to be successful. We just need to enhance those elements.”

The plan is intended in part to change the perception of the neighborhood, Lovell said. This will be accomplished, according to officials, through housing improvements, commercial corridor development, neighborhood branding and a focus on safety.

The PARC plan also consists of creating a community prosecution unit made up of an assistant district attorney and a coordinator who will work with the police department government agencies and community organizations to reduce crime and prevent domestic violence, according to the organization.

“This is a very exciting time. Be excited about it. This is historic,” Milwaukee Police Department Chief Edward Flynn said.

The crime reduction portion of PARC mirrors a similar effort by Washington Park Partners that reduced crime by 30 percent in that neighborhood in its first year, according to the Near West Side Partners.

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm (left), Milwaukee Police Department Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett listen as members of Near West Side Partners explain the PARC initiative. (Photo by Brendan O’Brien)

Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm (left), Milwaukee Police Department Chief Edward Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett listen as members of Near West Side Partners explain the PARC initiative. (Photo by Brendan O’Brien)

“Whatever kind of help that we can get to bring up the neighborhood and to help the people…I am all for it,” said James Hall, 60, standing outside his apartment building down the street from the Harley-Davidson facility. “The kids need to know that the police are in their corner and not their enemy.”

Hall said that while he appreciates the asset promotion and crime reduction effort, bringing good-paying jobs to the inner city is a fundamental key to addressing poverty and crime.

“You can’t have people working for the minimum wage…they have nothing,” he said.

According to officials, the initiative will be driven by public health and safety data gathered and analyzed by Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking. They also promised to get residents and business owners involved in improving their neighborhood.

Near West Side Partners was formed in January. It will focus its efforts in the area bounded by Interstate 43 to the east, Interstate 94 to the south, Highway 41 to the west and north, Vliet Street west of 27th Street and the north side of Highland Avenue east of 27th Street.

“This is a jewel that we have right before us and we have an obligation as a community to do what we can to bolster and shine up this jewel once again,” Mayor Tom Barrett said.

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

5 thoughts on “$1 Million Plan to Upgrade Near West Side”

  1. Denise says:

    I hope more concrete examples of what will be done are named. This area has so many boarded up and unmaintained buildings with gorgeous gems in between. The award winning Woodlands East State Street campus school is there on the beautiful historic Concordia campus. The houses are stellar architectural gems and the Veteran’s Cafe is wonderful. Yet getting around the area is dangerous just because so many cars run lights. The light on 27th and Kilbourn has people nearly killed daily with near misses from fast cars running red lights. Great to hear something will be done, and we hope it keeps in mind how many great schools and Milwaukee architectural wonders brighten the area.

  2. Denise,

    Feel free to check out the avenueswest.com website. We are working with property owners and landlords via our two landlord compacts. We have Commissioner of DPW Ghassan Korban on our Near West Side Partner’s board who will be assisting us with city infrastructure. In addition to Wgema Campus, Troop Café and the beautiful historic Concordia neighborhood, we have 10 other schools, 11 distinct neighborhoods and hundreds of businesses and nonprofits that employ over 20,000 people in the near west side.

    We are excited about what can and what will happen. Feel free to reach out if would like additional information.

    Keith Stanley, Executive Director, Avenues West Association/BID #10
    Tel: 414-933-0640 | Address: 624 N. 24th Street
    avenueswest@sbcglobal.net | http://www.avenueswest.com

  3. Marie says:

    Sounds like wise investment/cooperation for much-needed neighborhood improvement. Ultimately it should lead to greater safety and increased property values/redevelopment. Many community anchors and historic buildings there. It’s good they’re all getting together

  4. James Ervin Berry says:

    I have lived in this area literally my entire 41 years.

    I’d like to see more concrete examples of what the changes will be.

    Personally, demolishing boarded up houses, nuisance rental properties and eye sores would be great. On Highland Ave & Juneau between 15th & 17th the area now looks fantastic. When I was growing up it was a disaster to live and look at.

    It would be nice to finally see some improvements. But without examples PARC will be exactly its acronym….. spelled backwards.

  5. Mr. Berry,

    Feel free to contact me about the current improvements in the near west side. There is currently close to $200 million worth of investments in the near west side. The Ambassador Hotel, Department of Children and Families, and the Wgema Campus are just a few examples. In addition, the growth of Marquette University, Marquette University High School, the reconstruction of 27th Street, the planned reconstruction of Wisconsin Avenue, the planned reconstruction of I94, the investment of security by our anchor institutions and others, the investments planned for 27th, 35th, Vliet and Wisconsin Avenue and more.

    PARC is just a program of many to come out of this newly formed partnership. It focuses on our assets while working to reduce crime. As a resident Mr. Berry, I invite you to breakfast, lunch or dinner to share with you these plans and more (my treat). We can meet at the Valley Inn, Ms. Katie’s, the Ambassador or the new soul food restaurant on 27th and Wells, Daddy’s. See below for my contact information.

    Keith Stanley, Executive Director, Avenues West Association/BID #10
    Tel: 414-933-0640 | Address: 624 N. 24th Street
    avenueswest@sbcglobal.net | http://www.avenueswest.com

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