Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

City To Fund Improvements On Edge of Cathedral Square

TIF district would help bail out Century City,

By - Feb 13th, 2020 03:59 pm
Cathedral Square Friends streetscaping suggestions. Image from Cathedral Square Friends.

Cathedral Square Friends streetscaping suggestions. Image from Cathedral Square Friends.

The city would fund $1.8 million in streetscaping improvements around the perimeter of Cathedral Square Park as part of a proposal pending before the Common Council.

The proposal is part of a broad series of tax incremental financing (TIF) district amendments that would allocate $13.4 million to bail out the TIF district used to create the Century City business park and expend approximately $1 million to repave portions of W. Wells St., W. State St. and N. Broadway.

The project includes designing and implementing durable improvements to the city-owned land, including the sidewalk, terrace and curb, that surrounds the county-owned park.

Cathedral Square Park takes up a full city block, bordered by E. Kilbourn Ave., N. Jackson St., E. Wells St. and N. Jefferson St. It’s used for East Town Association‘s weekly Jazz in the Park music series, farmers’ market and mid-July Bastille Days Festival. The park is also part of Milwaukee Downtown’s annual holiday lights display and a handful of other festivals.

The streetscaping funds would come from the 2002 TIF district created to fund the 940-stall parking garage in the rear of the Cathedral Place office building and residential condominium tower overlooking the square. Because of rising property values, the district is overperforming initial estimates. It was previously amended to fund a portion of the city’s local contribution to develop The Hop streetcar system. The latest amendment would contribute $7.75 million to the Century City district over five years and $1.8 million to streetscaping.

Under state law, TIF districts can be used to fund public infrastructure improvements within a half mile of the district boundaries. State law requires districts to close within 27 years.

The effort is backed by the Cathedral Square Friends non-profit organization. The all-volunteer organization, led by Urban Milwaukee publisher Dave Reid, released a conceptual rendering showing how the improvements could function.

“For years Cathedral Square has been in need of repairs and upgrades, and this is the next step towards the revitalization of the square,” said Reid.

The organization has privately raised $40,000 for hanging flower baskets in the park over the past three years. Milwaukee County replaced the playground at the park last summer.

“We hope improvements to the square’s perimeter can be used as a catalyst to enhance the connection between Milwaukee’s town square and the city,” said Reid. The group is engaged with the City, East Town Association, Milwaukee Downtown, and Milwaukee County Parks on developing a long-term vision for the park. “Each summer residents from all across Milwaukee come to Cathedral Square to enjoy Jazz in the Park and Bastille Days, which makes this an improvement that all Milwaukeeans can enjoy for decades to come.”

The proposal will first be reviewed by the board of the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee and the Joint Review Board before proceeding to the Common Council.

The proposal is similar to an approved 2019 TIF amendment to allocate $100,000 from the development of the Huron Building to improving Pompeii Square and a newly created district to fund improvements to the city-owned Zillman Park.

Photos and Rendering

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3 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: City To Fund Improvements On Edge of Cathedral Square”

  1. Janet Holzhauer says:

    And if Urban Milwaukee’s lovely shop was right on Cathedral Square, that would be the BEST!!

  2. Where is the bicycle lane in the rendering?

  3. Dave Reid says:


    As much as I love Cathedral Square, Urban Milwaukee’s home is appropriately on Milwaukee St. And we just love being in the Colby-Abbot building! Our history here pre-dates the store and it has been great for us.

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