Bay View responds to Alterra’s proposal
On Monday night, residents of Bay View met with Alterra Coffee Roasters co-owner Lincoln Fowler and city representatives to ask questions and voice their concerns about Alterra’s recently unveiled proposal to renovate the former Marine Bank building in Bay View into an expanded bakery headquarters and retail coffee shop.
As the conference room at the Bay View Public Library swelled to capacity, Fowler elaborated on the project’s early and unexpected attention after submitting their initial application to the Department of City Development, and also described tentative plans to turn the building into a mixed use facility.
This 2-3 percent reduction in their effective rate translates into hundreds of thousands of dollars of savings on Alterra’s $7.8 million financing request, which will encompass four projects in Milwaukee, Shorewood and Grafton.
After the floor was turned over to residents’ questions, Fowler excitedly put most concerns about the project to rest. He indicated the project would create 20 new bakery positions while also consolidating the 40 existing bakery jobs from their current bakery headquarters within the recently-opened Humboldt Avenue location.
When asked by County Supervisor Marina Dmitrijevic how the new storefront would interact with the many transit stops surrounding the somewhat busy intersection at Lincoln and Kinnickinnic, Fowler expressed his desire to transform the area into a much more pedestrian friendly environment.
Questions then turned to the perceived threat that the project presents to existing Bay View coffee shops, including Wild Flour Bakery, Sven’s and Anodyne. Fowler noted that not all coffee shops feel threatened; Stone Creek even posted a welcome note on the Alterra website. More to the point of concern, Fowler stated that the shop’s viability would be threatened by a lack of community engagement, thus meetings like Monday’s would serve to clarify and reinforce the connection between Alterra and Bay View residents. But, in the end, everyone in the community gets to spend their dollars as they see fit, so each and every business owner in Bay View will need to raise their game in order to earn the support of consumers.
After a brief and all-too-typical discussion about parking concerns, several area business owners and neighborhood supporters voiced their support for the project. Citing the need for new investment in the neighborhood in order to add eyes on the street and generally improve the commercial corridor, business owner after business owner praised Alterra’s willingness to invest in Bay View during such economic crossroads.
The proposed Alterra Bakery and Café yielded near unanimous approval from last night’s crowd, and afterward Alderman Tony Zielinski touted the shop’s ability to increase foot traffic along Kinnickinnic Avenue, which will economically benefit other neighborhood business and also help reduce crime in the area. Zielisnki then announced his support for Alterra’s proposal when it comes before the Board of Zoning Appeals on May 20th.
Although many steps are left before it’s a done deal, just about every resident left Monday’s meeting content to know that their community may soon have an Alterra like no other that they can call their own.