A Year in Review
It’s time to look back at all the predictions we made for last year, and see how overly optimistic we were. As it turns out, I don’t think we were that far off. It was nice to read over this list and see how many things did happen in urban Milwaukee in 2009, as it seemed like a rather bleak year at times.
Last year at this time it would have been hard to imagine that two 20+ story buildings will soon be under construction in Milwaukee. Yet, The Moderne is preparing to break ground and St. John’s on the Lake is under construction. Each took a form of government assistance to get started (St. John’s no-interest bonds, The Moderne received two municipal loans), but when each is finished they will begin paying property taxes.
Without further ado, here’s a breakdown of our predictions for 2009. Comments on what actually happened are in red.
- UWM Expands Engineering School in downtown Milwaukee. Santa has yet to deliver.
- The RTA receives funding in the Governor’s budget and the KRM project moves forward. Trying again this year.
- The Mayor’s streetcar plan is selected as the preferred alternative and the project moves forward. – Things are looking good. The $91.5 million was divided between the County and City, and the Mayor has pushed forward a plan for a streetcar starter system.
- The proposed widening of I-94 is dropped by the DOT. Well that didn’t happen.
- The City of Milwaukee enters into no water deals that would send water across the continental divide. At least for now, no deal has been made with Waukesha. All signs, however, point to the fact that a deal is likely, and that it will likely be a huge issue in 2010 for both cities. Will the terms of the deal favor Milwaukee, Waukesha, or both? Only time will tell.
- The plans to replace the Hoan Bridge with a lower bridge that activates the land at the north and south ends of the bridge move forward. A lack of political will appears to have doomed any action here, even a simple study. And it’s a shame, because when you spend $200+ million, you should probably ask, could I do this differently? In the meantime, however, Patricia Jursik was entertaining with her witch hunt for anyone she thought might be trying to deprive her constituents of access to downtown.
- The City of Milwaukee moves aggressively to convert more one-way streets to two-way streets in Downtown Milwaukee. East State Street is being converted to two-ways, but in a way that’s way more confusing than it needs to be. This appears to be a result of the Mayor caving to the wishes of MGIC.
- The City of Milwaukee makes additional bike lane improvements and enhancements, including “cycle tracks.” Hasn’t happened yet.
- Milwaukee County finally moves forward and installs bike racks on buses. Good news, it happened. And even today, in freezing cold Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I saw two bike racks being used. Finally MCTS was able to take advantage of federal funds that were available to pay for 95% of the project. Predictably, County Executive Scott Walker, no friend of buses or bicycles, called the entire thing “ridiculous”.
- The City of Milwaukee utilizes market rate parking at meters throughout downtown Milwaukee. Rates went up, not in any way that truly works as a parking benefits district though.
Top 10 Development Projects We Would Like To See Move Forward in 2009
- The Moderne – It’s happening, full-on construction is awaiting some utility work to be completed over the next few weeks.
- The Catalyst – It’s not happening, nor will it likely ever be happening as it was originally proposed.
- Pleasant Street Market – Hard to see this project happening when a high-end grocery store is announced across the river by New Land Enterprises and the Nehrings, who were to be the rumored anchor tenant.
- Bradley Center redevelopment – No big news in 2009, other than the state (which technically owns the Bradley Center) awarded the facility $500,000/year over the next ten years for capital improvements. That money will apparently lead to a new scoreboard next year.
- The Gallun Tannery redevelopment. – Nothing to report on here. There were rumors it was going to be sold, but nothing ever materialized from that.
- Second Phase of The North End – It’s likely that sometime this year, the Mandel Group will bring a financing request similar to the Moderne or Bookends North to the Common Council. The Common Council and Mayor seemed to grease the skids with loans and loan guarantees for other projects that will make this project more likely to go forward in 2010.
- The Transera (Goll Mansion redevelopment) – It has full Common Council approval, but there is no indication that construction will start on this Prospect Avenue tower anytime soon.
- Second Phase of the Downer Avenue redevelopment – There was serious discussion of building a boutique hotel on the north end of commercial corridor on the site of the old Associated Bank (E Park Place and Downer Avenue), as the bank is now relocated into the parking garage. For reasons that aren’t totally clearly though, nothing materialized.
- Riverboat Landing Condos – Not going to happen, the land is now for sale. At least there will be a brand new bridge next door. For $2,500,000 the land is yours, but don’t let the description fool you, the land isn’t on the East Side, and the bridge isn’t finished yet.
- Second Phase of The Edge – No sign that the second phase of The Edge will happen anytime soon, as the first phase didn’t open until the spring of 2009. It would be surprising to see news on the second phase in 2010.
Top 10 Development Projects We Will Likely Be Following in 2009
- Openings of numerous projects at The Brewery (former Pabst Brewery). Cardinal Stritch University, Zilber Park, The Brewery Parking Garage, Blue Ribbon Hall, Blue Ribbon Loft Apartments, Albion Group Architects, Inland Companies, AMB Development Group LLC. Open!
- Openings at the South Water Works (former Transpak buildings). Open!
- Construction of the UWM Hometown site dormitory. Under Construction (and ahead of schedule)
- Construction of the Aloft Hotel. Just opened!
- Construction of St. Johns on the Lake. Construction started recently.
- Completion of 1824 E Park Place. Open!
- Construction of New Land Enterprises’ Kenilworth and Farwell apartment building. No longer property of New Land, but still under construction on track for a 2010 opening.
- Expansion of Marquette Engineering School on the edge of downtown Milwaukee. Under construction
- Expansion of Cardinal Stritch into downtown Milwaukee (at The Brewery). One building open, potentially more to come.
- Expansion of UWM Engineering School in Wauwatosa. They bought the land, but it hasn’t happened yet.