Milwaukee Makeover Project

By - Jul 13th, 2010 10:12 am
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Working Together

Working Together – Photo By Todd Montgomery

Imagine bringing together a group of talented architects and designers with Milwaukee homeowners from “middle-market” neighborhoods to explore how the look of their basic homes can be transformed through quality design. That’s the idea behind the Milwaukee Makeover Project.

This unique effort aims to improve modest Milwaukee homes by connecting homeowners to the design community. These homes – many built in the 1950s and 1960s – provide solid housing, but often lack visual appeal. By encouraging strong design and high-quality standard setting improvements, the Milwaukee Makeover Project hopes to add beauty and stimulate greater reinvestment from adjacent homeowners.

The Makeover Project is organized by the Milwaukee Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative (MHNI), a partnership effort to strengthen Milwaukee’s middle-market neighborhoods. Currently the Initiative is operating in nine Milwaukee neighborhoods: Sherman Park, Thurston Woods, Layton Boulevard, Enderis Park, Martin Drive, Havenwoods, Johnsons Park, Lincoln Village, and Capitol Heights. Key partners in the Initiative are the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the /City of Milwaukee Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation/ (NIDC). The Makeover Project has also been promoted by the Milwaukee Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.


Designs – Photo By Todd Montgomery

So here’s what happened….twelve architects and designers worked with nine homeowners on Saturday June 26th – first visiting their homes, and then participating in a design charrette at the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning. Each family worked with an architect to come up with an exterior makeover that would add substantial curb appeal and value to their home. The designs were all exciting – often small-scale, but nonetheless significant transformations.

But this was not simply an exercise in design. Staff from the HNI neighborhoods will work with the homeowners to implement their projects. NIDC is also helping advance the implementation by providing rebates based on homeowner’s income. And the HNI is also working with lenders to develop a pool of low interest loans to support this project. More charrettes will be planned for late summer and early fall.

If you are an architect and reading this blog and you would like to participate, please contact Dru Chapman at this email address:

Designs - Photo By Todd Montgomery

Designs – Photo By Todd Montgomery

Guest Post By: Michael Schubert

Michael Schubert is currently a consultant to the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. He has over thirty five years of experience in community development, working for the last 18 years as a consultant to municipal governments, nonprofits, and foundations. He also served as the Commissioner of the City of Chicago Department of Housing during the first term of Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Categories: Real Estate

12 thoughts on “Milwaukee Makeover Project”

  1. Jeff Jordan says:

    What a fascinating collaboration! I can only see good things coming from this and let’s hope it prospers and grows.

  2. Dan Knauss says:

    This can only be done now in the selected neighborhoods?

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan I’m not sure I’ll ask Mike. But I know they are working with specific neighborhoods, and I’d assume funding plays a role in how many neighborhoods they can work in.

  4. Dan Knauss says:

    It’s a good idea. I personally could use a consult with an interior designer for a kitchen rather than messing around with Sketchup myself.

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Dan I could be wrong but I think they want to do projects that are visible to the neighborhood, so more exterior work…

  6. Dan says:

    Yeah, that was a joke.

  7. Dave Reid says:

    Ahh I’m apparently being a bit dense.

  8. Kristy Suworoff says:

    As reported in a recent article in The Business Journal, this project attracted only nine homeowners due to lack of promotion time. Is this project still going on? Are homeowners invited to “submit” their story to be selected to participate? Despite not living in one of the neighborhoods mentioned, the 3-Family house I own and live in on the very busy corner of 76th & Arthur in West Allis could really benefit from this project. Anyone care to discuss the possibilities off line???

  9. Erin C. says:

    @Kristy-to my knowledge they are currently undergoing the second round of projects and are accepting applications. Yes, it does appear you must reside in one of the 9 healthy neighborhoods.

  10. jim pettit says:

    Are before and after photos and sketches available for perusal? Do you have information on how the actual alterations were (or will be) brought to fruition? What are the mechanics of the process? What liability is imposed on the architects and on the sponsoring organization? What, if any, are the financial constraints? Is the architectural work pro bono? How far are the drawings taken? In other words, once the charrette has taken place and basic design solutions selected, what is the architect’s obligation to complete drawings suitable for both permit and construction? I am in Baltimore and involved pretty heavily in AIA Baltimore Chapter. On the surface this program has a great deal of appeal. I would like a bit more detail if it can be provided, however, before suggesting that our chapter take on something like this. Please contact me by e-mail. Thanks and best wishes to you.

  11. Dave Reid says:

    @Jim I’ve passed your questions on to people involved in the project, they should get back to you. Thanks

  12. Ina says:

    I applied in August and qualified for the Makeover project. I was given mis- information at the begining of the process of what was covered and what wasn’t. Now it’s Novemeber and nothing has moved forward after repeated promises that it would just be just another week, time and time again. Did anyone ever consider the weather? Contractors can’t always work in extreme conditions outdoors, depending on the work they have to complete..
    I am disappointed in the way the Milwaukee Makeover Project was presented as a great project to help even as the intial cost came out of the homeowners pocket to start with, since no funding was available. It should have been handled differently and not hurt the people who did their part or were willing to do so..
    It’s unfortunate that once again the use of that Milwaukee red tape got puled out.
    . How has this become my fault and my problem as a taxpaying homeowner in Milwaukee? I give up!

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