Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Vliet Street Oasis Opens on Near West Side

Vacant lot converted to fresh produce market and pocket park

By - Sep 18th, 2020 06:26 pm
Vang Lee sells produce at the Vliet Street Oasis. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Vang Lee sells produce at the Vliet Street Oasis. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

“Every neighborhood in the state of Wisconsin needs a Pat Mueller,” said Keith Stanley on Thursday afternoon.

But, unfortunately, only the Martin Drive neighborhood has one. Mueller is the driving force behind the conversion of a vacant city lot into an open-air market and pocket park.

Neighbors gathered Thursday to celebrate the launch of the oasis at 3743 W. Vliet St.

“For those that drive Vliet Street all the time, you know how the neighborhood is improving,” said Stanley, Executive Director of Near West Side Partners (NWSP).

Mueller’s vision was shepherded by Stanley’s organization and ultimately built by contractor and real estate developer Tom Straub. “We need more people like him,” said Stanley.

Straub built stands for two vendors. Caroline Carter sells raw vegan food from her booth through her business Caroline’s Raw Creations. Her booth will be open Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Vang Lee of Lee Produce will man his booth on Thursdays from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sundays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. You can also find Lee Produce at the Brown Deer Farmers Market and Wauwatosa Farmers Market.

Straub owns the buildings east and west of the lot, as well as a number to the south. In his building to the west, Triciclo Peru restaurant and Pete’s Pops have opened with the support of NWSP. The developer is working to rehab dozens of single-family homes and duplexes in the neighborhood.

Triciclo Peru is sponsoring the colorful seating in the pocket park, which will serve as a complement to its large to-go window along W. Vliet St.

Area Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II said he was “very proud of this development,” and called on members of the audience to tout their favorite items from each of the vendors.

The city has owned the 0.1-acre lot since 1995. According to the LGBT History Project it was previously home to a lesbian bar known as The Beer Garden.

Photos

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