Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Downtown BID Touts Successes, Awards

Downtown growing, group adds homeless outreach coordinator, charts plan for 2020.

By - Oct 16th, 2019 10:03 am
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Tables and chairs at Postman's Porch. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Postman’s Porch, an initiative of Milwaukee Downtown and the city. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

“Downtown is more robust than ever,” said Milwaukee Downtown CEO Beth Weirick to a packed room at the business improvement district’s annual meeting at the recently redeveloped Saint Kate Arts Hotel.

The energetic downtown booster was joined by the district’s full-time staff members in detailing the organization’s successes over the past year and plans for 2020.

A list of highlights includes over 70,000 diners participating in Downtown Dining Week, 1,349 pieces of graffiti removed, two new murals, the launch of Postman’s Porch, another popular run of the Holiday Lights Festival, just under 20,000 meals served at Downtown Employee Appreciation Week, the launch of BID-NID Week with the city, three businesses leveraging the $165,000 business development loan pool, $470,000 in public-private partnerships, expanding Public Service Ambassador hours into the evening and a roofline lighting program on 22 properties on N. Old World Third St.

Weirick announced that the organization raised $80,000 to fund one year of a downtown homeless outreach coordinator position and will seek funding to continue the position. Beth Lappen is serving in the role, which has taken on increased visibility and importance in the past month with the announcement that the residents of the tent city under the Marquette Interchange will be evicted. Weirck has been a proponent of removing the tent city and has advocated for a housing first-based solution.

In addition to fundraising to sustain the homeless outreach coordinator position, Weirick said the organization’s 2020 plan is to focus on preparation work for the Democratic National Convention, continue to improve downtown quality of life and capitalize on available real estate near The Hop’s route.

The latter task will fall to Matt Dorner, the BID’s economic development director. Dorner unveiled an updated investment guide and interactive investment map as part of his presentation at the meeting that details $8.1 billion in real estate projects in various stages of completion. Dorner said that $2.5 billion worth of projects are currently under construction in Downtown.

Dorner also presented new statistics on the size of the downtown population. Within the BID’s boundaries, which includes the Historic Third Ward, East Town, Westown, The Brewery and Schlitz Park neighborhoods, there are now 90,100 employees, said Dorner. Downtown’s residential population has grown to 32,000, with 5,000 new housing units constructed since 2010. In total, Downtown represents 3.5 percent of the city’s land area and 22.6 percent of its tax base, said Dorner.

The BID, a self-taxing entity, has an annual budget of $4.2 million for 2020 funded by an additional property tax of $1.59 per every $1,000 of value for applicable commercial properties within the district.

Dorner and Weirick were joined on stage by downtown environment specialist Gabriel Yeager, marketing, events and social media director Erica Chang and board chair Joe Ulrich.

Award Winners

Milwaukee Downtown also presented 13 awards to businesses and individuals making an impact downtown.

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