Container Bar Planned for Bradford Beach
But Historic Preservation Commission gives it only partial approval.
A new bar could soon be added atop the Art Moderne beach house at Bradford Beach, 2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
Beach concessionaire Dock Bradford LLC hopes to add shipping containers to the structure’s open-air second level. But the proposal requires approval from the Historic Preservation Commission due to its location in the North Point South Historic District.
“For the location to work feasibly, economically, we need a bar location up there,” said Dock Bradford’s Luke Cholodecki to the commission on Monday afternoon. His Illinois-based firm took over the operation in 2019 after Milwaukee-based SURG Restaurant Group walked away. Dock also runs the Montrose Beach concessions in Chicago.
The commission unanimously granted partial approval Monday afternoon to the plans, approving patio furniture and the shipping container that would hold the physical bar and back up to the second-story restrooms, but rejecting the three 20-foot-tall shipping containers that would have run along an exterior railing and served as cabanas.
“We’re not trying to change the character of the building,” said the group’s attorney Brian Randall. “We are not trying to do something permanent.”
Randall said his clients have been working to secure the bar for some time, and only later realized it’s part of a historic district. They originally applied to have the bar installed on Friday, March 13th, a date best remembered for being when the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in Milwaukee.
A more nautical, traditional shipping container theme was originally planned, mimicking that of a cargo ship, before pivoting to better match the standards of the historic district.
“The containers just seem to be overkill,” said Commissioner Matt Jarosz. He said the commission didn’t have enough information to approve them, notably elevation drawings or renderings of the view from N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.
The new bar, to be known as The Dock, would augment those located on the beach itself, as well as a concession stand on the first floor of the structure. The shipping containers were already custom built and delivered to the group.
The beach house opened in 1950. There were once changing rooms in the space where the new bar is proposed to go. “Carlen and I couldn’t find anyone that actually remembers it, but the photos do not lie,” said commissioner staffer Tim Askin.
The group is free to apply with a modified plan for the three cabana containers.
Commissioner Sally Peltz took her time to ask the Milwaukee County Parks representative about what could be done about the now-closed pedestrian bridge that connects the structure’s second level with Lake Park. She said the county needed to take action on that as fast as possible.
“We do have a structural engineer that’s undertaking a repair plan right now,” said Sarah Toomsen. She said the plan was needed to understand the scope of work.
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Related Legislation: File 200433