Dave Reid

Key Riverwalk Project Held at Committee

By - Feb 1st, 2012 02:06 pm
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Most of Milwaukee’s riverwalk system has been built as a public-private partnership as new developments occurred, but a file before yesterday’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development committee proposed that the City of Milwaukee fund a short section of the system.  City staff determined that an 80-foot stretch along Erie St., between River Renaissance and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, is unlikely to see new development in the foreseeable future and therefore the city should move ahead to complete the Riverwalk.  Alyssa Remington, stated the city’s position clearly, “we don’t anticipate development happening their anytime soon.”

The project would utilize $420,000 from TID #34 and construct a new Riverwalk section and dockwall.  The 80-foot section is comprised of two properties, and both owners, General Capital and Hoffman, have provided the city with appropriate easements to allow for the new Milwaukee RiverWalk segment. Further, a draft agreement with the Historic Third Ward Association was drawn up to handle maintenance of this section.  If approved the construction would start in April to be finished in August.

The project prompted questions and concerns from committee regarding the apparent change in city policy for this project.  Normally, the local property owner would fund 30% of a riverwalk segment’s construction, whereas in this case the city was planning to 100% fund the construction of the riverwalk segment.   Alderman Murphy asked “Why are we changing our practice?”  Remington answered that “we [the city] don’t want to wait for that development to take place.”  She also explained that there will be no direct connection to the property from the riverwalk, indicating that the adjacent property will received no direct benefit.  Alderman Witkowiak wondered if the city could assess the property owners much like the city does with sidewalks, and stated that this action would be “kinda sorta precedent setting.”  Alderman Bauman, explained that “I support this project,” but pushed to hold the project to work out details regarding a possible assessment or the possibility of requiring the property owners to buy the section if they choose in the future to connect to the system.  The file was held, and will be taken up at the next Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee meeting.

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2 thoughts on “Key Riverwalk Project Held at Committee”

  1. Eric says:

    “We don’t anticipate development happening their anytime soon.” Now that’s a real visionary statement, the kind of views we need in a city that desperately needs to focus on development. While this statement might be true there is plenty of potential for development along this area. If the buildings along Erie street offered retail and services there is the population near that street to support it, I live on Erie street and I would love to see more street activity. Part of the reason why there hasn’t been development is that the current buildings along Erie Street do not offer space for retail. The buildings are mostly elevated from the street and have offices on the first floor which is silly. The building across from mine had a prime retail spot on a corner with beautiful floor to ceiling windows for displays….and what went in there? A real estate office.
    While I understand where this real estate office went is off the beaten path a little bit (1 block) the area needs spaces like this specifically for retail. In Milwaukee we pride ourselves on small businesses, that’s what I love about our city and we need spaces that will help to make our small businesses successful. I’ve seen so many small businesses go out of business because of location.
    Buildings should be at street level with the first story offering retail with windows that people can look into. While most of these raised buildings and condos along Erie Street are already built there is plenty of opportunity across the street to build places for retail. I don’t know the current zoning restrictions but there is a parking lot and an auto shop across the way, which usually indicates light manufacturing. This makes sense from back in the day when all the buildings in that area used to be cold storage buildings and received shipments on a regular basis from ships that would come into the port and from the train nearby. However all of those cold storage buildings have turned into condos. If there was a building built where the parking lot is currently or along the edge of the lot specifically for retail I can guarantee that the population exists in that area to support it.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Eric The point about not anticipating any development on that site is because there are two property owners splitting the 80 feet. One of which I believe has no interest in selling their parking lot so it won’t be developed. That’s the problem. Agreed first floor should be retail, and street level.

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