Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Deshea Agee Leaving King Drive BID

Executive director leaving to pursue undisclosed new opportunity.

By - Jun 3rd, 2021 12:43 pm
Deshea Agee appears before a Common Council committee in 2019. Image from City Channel - City Clerk's Office.

Deshea Agee appears before a Common Council committee in 2019. Image from City Channel – City Clerk’s Office.

The head of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District is on the move.

Deshea Agee will step down later this month to pursue an undisclosed new opportunity.

He has led the organization since 2016 and prior to that worked on the corridor while he was at the Department of City Development.

“We are so grateful to Deshea for his tremendous leadership over the last five years,” said BID board president and JCP Construction leader James Phelps. “During his tenure, the BID has experienced significant new growth and supported the creation of more than 20 Black or Brown-owned small businesses in the King Drive corridor. We look forward to building on this great work in the years ahead.”

Business improvement districts are created by commercial property owners with city support. The quasi-governmental districts levy an additional property tax to fund area improvements and programming. There are more than two dozen BIDs in the city, with varying geographical footprints and levy amounts.

Agee has been among the highest-profile BID directors in the city during his tenure, advancing a vision with Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs of making Milwaukee’s Martin Luther King Jr. Drive the best in the country.

“I will say what some will not, we have the best Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in the nation. There are a ton of folks that have helped make this possible, none deserving more credit than Mr. Deshea Agee,” Coggs said in a social media post Wednesday.

Agee is expected to serve as a part-time consultant until a national search for a full-time replacement is found.

“It has been a tremendous honor to help lead the Historic King Drive BID during a time of great opportunity,” said Agee. “I am proud of our shared success and know that the Corridor will continue to build on this great momentum in the years ahead.”

A press release from the BID notes that during Agee’s tenure the district has seen a number of successes including the attraction of new businesses, retention of long-term tenants, launch of new initiatives including Brew City Match, designation as an accredited “Main Street” from the National Main Street Center and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, new partnerships and an 80-property, 2020 expansion.

A number of major projects are underway including the ThriveOn King development, Dohmen Company Foundation headquarters, American Family Insurance‘s Milwaukee headquarters, Victory Over Violence Park rehabilitation and planned new location for the Milwaukee Public Museum.

The district runs from W. McKinley Ave. to W. Capitol Dr. following N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. But the district includes more than King Drive, especially after a 2020 expansion.

It broadens at a number of points, especially at its southern end. From its southern terminus to W. Vine St. it widens to encompass every commercial property from the Milwaukee River west to N. 7th St., including Schlitz Park. It also spreads west along W. North Ave. to Interstate 43 and west to N. 5th St. between W. Locust St. and W. Center St.

The BID has an operating budget of approximately $300,000 and two staff members, an executive director and a business and outreach coordinator.

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