Cathedral Square’s New Frame
Streetscaping project aims to beautify park, support community events.
One of downtown Milwaukee’s premier parks is receiving an upgrade.
Construction work, led by JCP Construction, is underway to “Frame the Square” at Cathedral Square Park. A crew installed the first new pavers this week, part of creating an expanded, durable sidewalk intended to beautify the park and support the many events the park hosts.
Cathedral Square fills a full city block, bordered by E. Kilbourn Ave., N. Jackson St., E. Wells St. and N. Jefferson St. Pre-pandemic, the park hosted a weekly music series, Jazz in the Park, the Bastille Days festival and a number of other events throughout the year. The prior configuration resulted in trampled grass, mud and scattered gravel on the park’s edges.
Unhealthy perimeter trees are being replaced and additional trees added, with protective wells added around each base. Many of those bases are now visible, although the new trees have yet to arrive. Benches, bicycle racks and garbage cans are also being added.
The nonprofit Cathedral Square Friends privately raised $40,000 for hanging flower baskets in the park over the past four years. The all-volunteer friends group was founded in 2015 and is led by Urban Milwaukee publisher Dave Reid.
HNTB is leading the design of the project with assistance from Kapur & Associates. Integris is serving as the owner’s representative for CSF and Milwaukee Downtown. A community meeting was held in December 2020.
The project also includes replacing the curb and associated ramps that ring the park. The south end of the park will receive new landscaping and low, concrete landscape walls. A screen will be added to shield a utility box at the southwest corner. In the coming years, the Department of Public Works intends to rebuild the adjacent E. Wells St.
The park is owned by Milwaukee County Parks, but the improvements are almost entirely taking place in the city-owned right of way on the edge of the park. The interior of the park will remain unchanged.
Improvements to the park, particularly its perimeter, were recommended in the 2010 Downtown Plan and it is now one of the last unexecuted projects from that plan. An effort is underway to update the plan, with Milwaukee Downtown contributing $100,000 to its development.
Improvements to the interior of the park could occur in future years, but would require a finalized plan, community outreach, funding and approval from Milwaukee County.