Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Urban Farm for Century City

Planet to Plate submits plans to construct facility in long dormant area of city.

By - Feb 17th, 2021 09:47 am
Century City I in 2018. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Century City 1 in 2018. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Century City 1 light industrial building could become an urban farm according to a building permit filed with the city.

Planet to Plate, which last year proposed an urban agriculture facility for N. 27th St. and W. Wells St., is listed as the applicant.

An affiliate of Good City Brewing acquired the 53,160-square-foot Century City building in 2018 from a partnership of General Capital Group and the City of Milwaukee. It was built in 2016 at the corner of N. 31st St. and W. Capitol Dr.

At the time, Good City co-founder Dan Katt said the company had no immediate need for all of the space and would seek tenants for the north half of the facility.

Planet to Plate founder Chris Corkery deferred an interview request until plans are finalized. Katt did not respond to a request for comment.

The commercial alteration permit says the firm is working with Quorum Architects on the design. A job cost of $150,000 is listed, which does not necessarily include the entire cost of the buildout.

The organization’s first vision, unveiled in late 2019, was at a different location: it planned to redevelop the two-story building at 817-831 N. 27th St. owned by Rick Wiegand into an urban farm, commercial kitchen and job training facility. A parking lot at 2734 W. Wells St. (located behind the building) was to be used for a greenhouse. The food would be sold locally to restaurants and distributors.

The project received zoning approval in February 2020 and LISC Milwaukee‘s Brew City Match program provided a grant in July to support initial redevelopment costs on the project. But according to city records, no substantial activity took place on the building.

The Century City proposal would eliminate any redevelopment concerns with an existing building. It’s virtually brand new space, having only been seriously used by Good City and to assemble basketball courts for Fiserv Forum. It features high ceilings and wide-open bays.

This would be Planet to Plate’s first such facility. It has an office in New York but has yet to create an urban farm operation.

“Our goal is to bring people and sustainably-minded businesses together. We create a platform that encourages discovery, learning, and conversation around fresh, accessible food, which we believe is the first step in creating healthier communities. Awareness around food system injustice is growing, and calls for change are out there. We seek to unify these voices to generate more powerful change,” says the organization’s website.

Corkery confirmed that the scope of the project has changed, but the mission has not.

Depending on the number of jobs it would create, the urban farm could be a major shot in the arm for the city’s efforts to redevelop Century City.

Once home to Tower Automotive and over 5,000 jobs, the city completed site preparation work on the 84-acre business park in 2014. But the city has struggled to attract permanent employers to the area. Talgo‘s lease of a former Tower plant is the leading success story. A plan to locate a new meat processing plant for Strauss Brands in the business park ultimately drew opposition from area Alderman Khalif Rainey and was dropped.

Rainey requested a study to grow hemp, either indoors or outdoors, in the business park as a job-creation tool. But city officials studied the matter and concluded it wasn’t economical.

A strategic action plan of sequenced public projects to improve the surrounding neighborhood was released in October.

Century City 1 Photos

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