10 Images of a Changing City
Think Milwaukee moves slowly? These dramatic interactive images will change your mind.
Milwaukee’s built environment is changing — and rapidly.
While it may feel like it takes forever for some projects to go from concept to reality, in fact the city’s urban core has been transformed in the past decade. And the pace of change is only increasing.
That can be hard to grasp given the slow-and-steady pace of individual construction projects. Milwaukeeans won’t wake up one morning to find the Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons project standing 32 floors, instead they’ll see the tower crane climb week-by-week until the building is finished. And when that happens, the former East Building will already have become a distant memory.
To truly appreciate the significant impact the building boom is having on Milwaukee’s built environment it’s best to look at compare-and-contrast, before-and-after images. Google’s Street View service makes such a comparison much easier than plying through the archives of our Friday Photos series. The camera-equipped vehicles trolling the world capture curbside snapshots of virtually every city street. In Milwaukee those images date back to 2007 and have been updated a number of times. Apartment-finding service RENTCafé used that imagery to compile some of the biggest changes in the local landscape.
1. Aloft Hotel and The Moderne
Looking west from the Juneau Avenue Bridge in this 2007 to 2014 comparison, you can see two empty lots transformed into the Aloft Milwaukee hotel and The Moderne apartment and condominium tower. Also visible to the keen observer is the loss of the Sydney HIH building, and in the distance the transformation of The Brewery including its new Brewery Parking Structure.
2. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Perhaps the most stark contrast in the series, use the slider to watch the Menomonee Valley and Potawatomi Bingo Casino transform with the addition of the Potawatomi Hotel. See the view from the hotel as part of our Vantage Point series.
3. The BreakWater on Burns Commons
As the stock market collapsed, The BreakWater Condominiums kept rising on the north edge of Downtown. Look at how the 20-story building changed the perspective from Burns Commons. Love this view? See our Listing of the Week feature on a unit with a great view of the scene.
4. 833 East
The newest building in the series, 833 East, is an 18-story office tower along E. Michigan St. near the lakefront. The tower opened last month. Want more? Take a tour of the new tower with Urban Milwaukee just before the tower opened. This image will be soon obsolete as the Downtown Transit Center in the foreground is slated to come down in August, with The Couture rising in its place.
5. Grohmann Tower
Under-construction already in 2007, the project at the time was to be a hotel-condominium tower. A casualty of the Great Recession, Grohmann Tower, as its now known, is a Milwaukee School of Engineering residence hall named after donor Eckhart Grohmann. It held the sarcastic title for years of “world’s largest Qdoba.”
6. Marquette Campus Transformation
Marquette University has developed a number of projects in the past ten years that have reshaped W. Wisconsin Ave., but W. Wells St. has seen plenty of action as well. The university built the Dr. E. J. O’Brien Jesuit Residence and a private developer completed IVY on Fourteenth, an apartment building targeted at students. See our 2014 hard hat tour of the apartment building for more.
Marquette and MSOE aren’t the only schools redeveloping their neighborhoods; the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design developed Two50Two in partnership with General Capital Group at the south end of the Historic Third Ward. The building houses more than 700 students, a coffee shop and art store. Learn more about the project and see inside with our coverage of the 2014 ribbon cutting.
8. 1910 on Water
N. Water St. is going to merit its own article in just a year, with a number of projects planned or under construction for the formerly forlorn stretch north of E. Cherry St. At the northern edge of the corridor is 1910 on Water, a 68-unit apartment building built into the bluff by Wangard Partners.
9. Park Lafayette Towers
The matching 20-story towers rising at the intersection of N. Prospect Ave. and E. Lafayette Pl. are perhaps Milwaukee’s best example of the exuberance that encapsulated the early 2000’s condominium boom. Developed by a Chicago-developer as 280 condominiums, Park Lafayette Towers went through foreclosure and is now managed as an apartment building by the Mandel Group. Go inside the towers with our 2014 article.
10. St. John’s on the Lake
Just south of Park Lafayette on N. Prospect Ave. rises the 21-story St. John’s on the Lake expansion. The tower was added to the existing retirement community complex located just to the north in 2011. See inside the complex with our 2014 article, but if you want to live there you’ll have to start saving: it’s not cheap.