Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bucks Building Street Through Bradley Center Site

But only conditionally. Proposal hinges on approval of new concert venue.

By - Oct 20th, 2022 06:53 pm
Site of former Bradley Center arena with Fiserv Forum in background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Site of former Bradley Center arena with Fiserv Forum in background. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Milwaukee Bucks and City of Milwaukee are moving forward on a plan to build a new street through the Bradley Center site.

An extension of N. 5th St. would be built north from W. State St. to W. Highland Ave. and Fiserv Forum. W. Highland Ave. between N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and N. 6th St., which resembles a large sidewalk more than a street, would be dedicated as a pedestrian corridor.

The proposal is being advanced as part of a proposal by FPC Live to build a two-venue concert complex at the northeast corner of the site, near the Deer District plaza. The one-block segment of N. 5th St. would be built as a privately-owned street, with sidewalks and space for parking tour buses and trucks.

“It will function as a public road most of the time unless it is closed for an event,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman when the Public Works Committee considered the easement proposal on Wednesday. The public access easement’s adoption is structured as conditional given the potential that the Common Council could reject the concert venue.

“There is obviously controversy surrounding this; there is no point in dancing around this,” said Bauman of the concert complex. “But the main event is the zoning change.”

The Common Council’s zoning committee is to consider the concert venue zoning proposal on Oct. 25. A City Plan Commission hearing on the zoning proposal, held to provide a recommendation to the council committee, lasted several hours.

The private road setup is straightforward and absolves the city of the planned, multi-million dollar expense of building the street as the Bucks developed new buildings on the 7.2-acre site. Department of City Development planning manager Sam Leichtling said the city has always envisioned public access through the site, which the T-shaped pedestrian easement ensures. But the context in which it is being approved caused the committee issues.

“My suggestion would be we should wait to see what the zoning committee does,” said Ald. Mark Borkowski. In the past he’s called public relations and political strategist Craig Peterson, who leads the opposition to the concert venue, his “svengali.” Borkowski suggested a special meeting before the full council meeting, only to be used if the zoning committee endorsed the plan.

Bauman said that wouldn’t solve any issues, as the full council could still reject the concert venue and the easement is already conditional.

“I cannot believe there is controversy from us getting out of the obligation to build a multi-million dollar street,” said Bauman. “This is obviously in the best interest of the city.”

Borkowski said there seems to be a push within City Hall to move the concert venue proposal forward quickly. Mayor Cavalier Johnson has endorsed the proposal, joining two press conferences to tout the proposal. But Bauman disagreed that it’s being fast-tracked.

“This has not only not been fast-tracked, it’s been slow-tracked,” said the downtown alderman. He said he asked for extended time between the plan commission and zoning committee hearings. “I specifically said ‘no, let’s provide ample opportunity for everybody to be heard, for everybody to do their lobbying, for everybody to state their concerns.'”

Brian Randall, an attorney with Davils|Kuelthau representing FPC Live, was called forward to provide details on the proposal. He said the proposal would add a street grid to the site which future buildings would also utilize. The concert venue is to occupy only a third of the vacant lot. The team was given the property as part of the larger Fiserv Forum funding agreement in exchange for paying to demolish the Bradley Center.

The attorney said the private road setup would avoid the conflicts that happen outside the Riverside Theater and other venues where trucks, buses and personal vehicles compete for limited space.

“I don’t know what I’m missing,” said Borkowski, while continuing to push to hold the proposal, but he was the only committee member to vote for this.

When Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II moved to recommend approval, Borkowski voted for the proposal making it a unanimous vote.

The full council will still need to approve both the easement and the zoning proposal for the concert complex.

September Renderings

August Renderings and Site Plan


Deer District pedestrian easement map. Drawing by Kapur & Associates.

Deer District pedestrian easement map. Drawing by Kapur & Associates.

Museum Alley Change

Another alley change drew no opposition. The committee unanimously recommended vacating an alley that bisects the proposed site of a new Milwaukee Public Museum at the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave.

“There is no longer a public purpose for the alley,” said Leichtling. The three properties that form the museum site will ultimately be combined, with the building spanning across all three.

A zoning change is still necessary for the museum’s construction.

UPDATE: An earlier version of the article identified Randall as representing the Bucks, he represents FPC Live.

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Bucks Building Street Through Bradley Center Site”

  1. NickR says:

    Billionaires better pay what they owe; or else clear some time on their calendar for an appointment with the guillotine

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