Dave Reid

2010 Not the Year of the Park East… Even Worse

By - Dec 30th, 2010 12:42 pm
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Milwaukee Intermodal Station Trainshed

Our belief that 2010 could have been the Year of the Park East, came up a bit short, and unfortunately it wasn’t the only project that was derailed in 2010.  The Rainier Properties II LLC’s office and movie theater proposal hasn’t budged.  The CommonBond project, an apartment proposal on RSC’s Park East land, failed to receive WHEDA tax credits so it stalled.  In fact nothing actually broke ground in the Park East, and most Park East proposals have gone quiet during this past year.

That said there were a couple of significant advances in the Park East.   First, The Moderne finally received financing, and although it has yet to officially break ground, site preparation started this past week. Secondly, The North End Phase II project received a funding agreement from WHEDA, though it is still working with the City of Milwaukee to complete the project’s financing.  Finally, MSOE proposed the building of a parking garage/athletic facility in the Park East which seems to be on the fast track.  So with an improving economy it looks possible that the Park East project will be able to get back on track in 2011.

Unfortunately, 2010 ended up being the year of high-speed rail, just not in Milwaukee.  Governor Walker ran a campaign that featured shutting down the high-speed rail upgrade and extension project as a key plank in his platform, and once elected he got his wish.  As a direct result the funds were reallocated from Wisconsin to a multitude of other states, costing Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, jobs, tourism, and improved transportation options.  Legally required upgrades to the Milwaukee Intermodal Station are now delayed and possibly unfunded.  The funding for freight tracks that were to be upgraded to allow trains to travel at speeds higher than 10 MPH was also lost.  Finally, instead of 125 new central city jobs, Talgo will likely only keep 60 here in Milwaukee.

Clearly, 2010 wasn’t the year of the Park East, though certain projects did move forward, unfortunately for Milwaukee it turned out to be a year of anti-urban rhetoric that cost us much more than the pennies a year high-speed rail service would have cost Wisconsin.


12 thoughts on “2010 Not the Year of the Park East… Even Worse”

  1. Kate Madison says:

    Thanks Dave! 2010 = the year of idiocy in the State of Wisconsin.

  2. Molly says:

    It is frustrating for those of us that go to school part-time to Chicago to not have a decent public transportation option in the nights. I really don’t understand this anti-urban rhetoric.

  3. Dave Reid says:

    @molly neither do I!

  4. GT says:

    Call it what you will, but 2010 was a year with great changes throughout the country. I’d like to think of it as the year we got new bike lanes on S 1st/2nd, expansion of the Oak Leaf and Hank Aaron trails occurred, the largest Biketoberfest in history was held (with debaucherous results), Chris Larson underdogged Jeff Plale, Milwaukee rekindled its love affair with the Bucks, and thousands of new people moved to Milwaukee. Let’s take the long view on 2010 – the last year that Scott Walker will ever be our County Executive.

  5. Peter says:

    Sounds like you’re complaining.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @GT Thanks that is a nice way to look at it.

  7. MilwaukeeGuy says:

    2010 was an excellent year for the dismantling of ill-conceived government funded projects that would never have received private sector funding. 2010 = the year of common sense in the State of Wisconsin.

    I look forward to more of the same in 2011 as State and Local governments reconcile their finances with reality (they’re broke!). The end of public financing for bad project ideas can’t come soon enough. If we work hard perhaps we can even eliminate one whole redundant level of government (Milwaukee County Board) in the coming years along with the requisite lowering of taxes to encourage more people and businesses to move here.


    p.s. Pennies a year high-speed rail service? Please Dave, that is incredibly dishonest. Fortunately voters weren’t buying it.

    p.p.s. And get it straight, this isn’t anti-urban rhetoric; it’s anti big-government rhetoric. I’m happy to see urban improvement but only if it’s privately funded, not funded by over-sized, inefficient and unaccountable government bureaucracies.

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @MilwaukeeGuy Umm the HSR project would of directly benefited Wisconsin’s biggest cities, Milwaukee and Madison. The shutting down of this project was quite clearly anti-urban in practice. Further Walker was arguing for freeway construction while against transit is again anti-urban. Nationally, some members attacked bike-infrastructure as a UN plot. Anti-urban. Now we see one of the very first items the new Walker administration pushes on their agenda, is an item that will encourage sprawl development. Anti-urban.

    And yes pennies a year.

  9. ktkof08 says:

    It was pretty obvious that 2010 wasn’t going to be the year of Park East, or any commercial properties for that matter. Lending was WAY too tight and there were just too many uncertainties in the economy in general to think that plots like this were going to develop this past year. I think the bit of development that is going to happen should be something to be proud of, everything given.

    As for HSR, I can see both sides of the argument. Personally if I was Walker, I wouldn’t have made that big of a deal over it and probably would’ve built the line. I do see the other side though. It’s a train line built on borrowed money touted on bogus job numbers. I also think it’s ironic that two of the most-broke states in this country took the money. They can’t even afford their current budgets, much less new train expenditures.

    Talking about anit-urban policies, how about some of Jim Doyle’s accomplishments? The most recent numbers say he chased over 60,000 jobs out of the state during his administration. I have friends who were educated here and have moved to Seattle, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Phoenix, Philadelphia, Jacksonville, Chicago, D.C, Dallas, San Diego, and other cites. Those are just ones I can think off the top of my head. A lot of those people would’ve liked to have stayed in WI had they found the right employment. I’m not blind enough to think that everyone will find their dream job here, but having a decent job market certainly wouldn’t hurt. Chasing 60,000+ jobs and educated young professionals out of the state, well that’s pretty anti-urban in my opinion.

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @ktkof08 I certainly wasn’t a big fan of Doyle, especially as he didn’t get the RTA finished. But I don’t know is it possible the biggest recession since the great depression impacted those job numbers? Na.

    As far as the Park East, at the time the Moderne and the North End were close to landing financing via the city, another project was in the mix for WHEDA credits, and a couple others were still floating around. It took awhile but the Moderne financing has come thru now, and the North End has obtained some of the financing needed. So some progress actually.

  11. ktkof08 says:

    @Dave Of course the recession had something to do with it, but his entire economic policies just made things worse. The only time his administration ever seemed to give a rip about businesses was when they had one foot out the door and were ready to leave, which then they threw together a rushed “please stay” incentive package. Minnesota, on the other hand has essentially the same number of jobs it had when their governor took office (incidentally the same time Doyle did).

    I know Walker isn’t going to be receiving any awards on this site anytime soon, but if the guy can create anywhere near the number of jobs he’s claiming this entire stay will be a 100X better for it… Milwaukee included. After all, you can’t expect to be filling many of the cool condos or luxury apartments that were/are built with unemployed people.

  12. Dave Reid says:

    @ktkof08 Wisconsin actually has a lower unemployment rate than the national average so in fact Wisconsin is doing better through this recession than most of the country. Again Doyle wasn’t great for Milwaukee either, shared revenue has been flat for ages, didn’t finish the RTA… though interestingly enough he did help recruit multiple businesses to Wisconsin and Milwaukee.

    Oh there will definitely be job growth during Walker’s term, and it was a good campaign move the 250k jobs thing, because the economy, nationally, is clearly on the rebound. And for his part yes he will reduce regulations, for example wetlands protection that will induce more sprawl, and yes this could open up some jobs [construction, service], but the question is at what cost and expense.

    But again anti-urban policy is coming (and was front and center with the HSR issue), less shared revenue, no rta, more freeway building, less transit projects, just to name a few.

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