Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee To Become Little Madrid?

By - Feb 16th, 2010 03:40 pm

Milwaukee has an unquestionably rich ethnic history that has been at the center of the cities identity ever since Juneau, Walker, and Kilbourn decided to merge their towns together in 1846.  There is a festival and slice of history for everyone in Milwaukee. In the past ten years something has changed in Milwaukee. Spain has emerged to have a number of ties to the city.

The first, and most iconic connection to Spain, is the Quadracci Pavilion expansion at the Milwaukee Art Museum. The building is affectionately known as “the Calatrava” after it’s designer, starchitect Santiago Calatrava. The Milwaukee Art Museum made a statement by selecting an architect not only from out of the state, but out of the country. The finished product was a beautiful building that has certainly become a showpiece for Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

Another connection came this summer after Governor Jim Doyle committed $47 million to purchase train cars from Madrid-based Talgo, a leader in the field of high-speed train set design. The train sets will be used on the Amtrak Hiawatha line from Chicago to Milwaukee (and one could guess will likely be used once the line is extended to Madison). The train sets weren’t the only thing received in the deal, as Talgo will locate a facility in the state for assembly and maintenance. We’ve opined on where we believe the facility should go, and we’ll see if Talgo agrees with an announcement expected soon.

The bold move by the state to agree to purchase the Talgo equipment in August certainly helped increase the odds that the Milwaukee to Madison line was selected for a $823-million high-speed rail development grant from the federal government. That move awards the state money to develop the line, including the purchase of train sets that will be made right here in Wisconsin by Talgo. It will be a great coup for Milwaukee if other high-speed rail corridors select Talgo for their train sets and those train sets can be assembled here, creating jobs and making Wisconsin a significant player in the high-speed rail arena.

The latest connection to Spain for Milwaukee is Monday’s announcement that Ingeteam will locate a manufacturing facility in the Menomonee Valley. The $15 million, 8.1 acre facility should be open by the end of 2010 and will manufacture wind-turbine generators. Milwaukee beat 80 other possible locations as the North American location for Ingeteam.

It’s important to note that none of the ties to Spain have weakened Milwaukee’s identify with other ethnic groups. Old World Third Street still has businesses that consider German history core to their identify, and patrons that will drink to that. Irish Fest, Polish Fest, and the Juneteenth Day Festival will still go off without a hitch. The Bucks will still regularly start five players from four different continents. Rest assured, Milwaukee’s title as “City of Festivals” is safe.

While it’s not like Milwaukee is seeing a wave of immigrants from Spain, it’s safe to think that Milwaukee is more well-regarded in Spain than the average American city. One has to assume Milwaukee is in a much better position going forward to attract increased Spanish investment, be it companies opening facilities or tourists.

So what’s next? What Spanish water company can Milwaukee lure to the Reed Street Yards?

This article was inspired by El Mariachi on SkyscraperCity

Categories: Real Estate

7 thoughts on “Milwaukee To Become Little Madrid?”

  1. Jeramey Jannene says:

    Trade goes both ways. GMR Marketing making a move in Spain.

  2. Jeff says:

    Little Madrid? Little China (Northridge Mall site)? Keep it coming!

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Jeff Agreed. Now if only Milwaukee could land the Talgo deal as well.

  4. I like the idea and I like the fact that new businesses are coming to Milwaukee and Wisconsin. I do, however, believe in our innovative spirit and that spirit in the country as a whole. Madrid is a great city; we walked day and night there. It’s all is centered around their core, Plaza Mayor and Puerta del Sol close by, with nice walk able streets connecting outward to other public spaces. Milwaukee has the potential to become a great walk able city but we need to use our innovation to establish that continuous pedestrian core suited uniquely for our city.

  5. Doug G. says:

    It’s always nice to be quoted!

    Great article. The Menonmonee Valley will be nicely served once that pedestrian walkway opens up, allowing people to access the Valley business parks on foot.

    As for the Spanish, I want bullfighting in Milwaukee!

  6. Nuclear Art says:

    Milwaukee is a little bit too tame and boring for your average Madrileño. I went into withdrawal when I came back after having lived there for about 4 months. You can’t even find the staples of Spanish life like jamón or chocolate con churros and there are no cafes that can touch your typical Spanish cafe.

  7. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @Nuclear Art

    Understandable. We’ve got a long way to go importing Spanish culture.

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