Know Milwaukee

Shops of Grand Avenue

By - Dec 3rd, 2011 06:59 pm
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In TCD’s continuing series on the people places and ideas that define our city, we visit six businesses in the Shops of Grand Avenue participating in the “Creativity Works Here” program. Click here for Part One at VETransferhere for Part Two at Art Milwaukee, and here for Part 3 at the Milwaukee Public Theatrehere for Part Four at Spreenkler, and here for Part Five at African World FestivalThis is Part Six.

Who: Creativity Works Here, a program in its first year, is composed of 12 small business start-ups and creative-based companies relocating to the downtown shopping district.

What: The program developed in mid-2011 between Creative Alliance Milwaukee and The Shops of Grand Avenue. The project works to revive once deserted space in Grand Avenue’s Plankinton Arcade building, selling space to small businesses and artists.

“Retail is not working and it was not a secret to anyone,” said Tracy Korpela, the Marketing and Specialty Leasing Coordinator of The Shops of Grand Avenue. “We needed to work with the resources that we had and the ideas we had that were feasible, and that was converting former retail space into office space.”

Business anchors VETransfer and Spreenkler collaborated with Grand Avenue in contacting the majority of eclectic entities to the program. Korpela admits that businesses were at first hesitant about moving their office to a mall location, but soon changed their tune.

“When they saw the lights on and they saw what they could be a part of, it was an easy sell.”

Why: The Grand Avenue, officially made a mall in 1982, has rich downtown Milwaukee history dating back to the Plankinton Arcade being built in 1916.

It’s this reason, Korpela says, that the public has been so supportive in the program bringing life back to the shopping center.

“A lot of people have a special place for this mall in their hearts,” she said.

Talks about expanding the program to the newer arcade side of the mall are underway.

Video by Ken Pugh, Koncepts 100.

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