North Powerhouse Demolition
The Urban Milwaukee authors have been closely following the destruction of the North Powerhouse along the Milwaukee River. We’ve accumulated a nice collection of photos tracking the demolition progress. The building was built in the late 1920s and used by the city to help distribute steam throughout downtown Milwaukee.
The building always looked like a potential site for development, especially with the highly successful Commerce Street Power Plant next door gleaming as the site of the Time Warner Milwaukee headquarters. Time was running short however, as the construction of the Manpower headquarters on the north side of the building had accelerated the need to do something.
In September of 2007, it was announced that redevelopment of the building would begin later in the fall. That never materialized as costs were prohibitive Brewery Works Inc general manager Sam Denny stated.
In a better economy with a tenant lined up to occupy the 55,000 potential square-feet redevelopment may have actually occurred. Obviously the economy isn’t strong right now, and there are numerous other development projects happening in the near vicinity, including Ruvin’s Aloft Hotel just south across the block. The Aloft development already lost Cramer-Krasselt as an anchor tenant, demonstrating that there isn’t a long list of companies looking for large spaces in Milwaukee right now.
One positive of the destruction is that the building will be replaced with green space. This will hopefully be a temporary thing, as the site is still targeted for development at some point. But it will help encourage other development in the area in the meantime as the abandoned industrial feel of the Haymarket Square neighborhood is diminished and a more productive, walkable neighborhood takes foot currently led by the Manpower headquarters, Park East Enterprise Lofts, and Time Warner Headquarters.
It could have been a parking lot, but it won’t be, so Brewery Works deserves some praise for improving the neighborhood in some way.