Foxtown Landing Wins First Approval
Architectural review board endorses proposed brewery, restaurant and adjacent dog park along Milwaukee River.
The proposal to develop Foxtown Landing, a downtown dog park and brewery along the Milwaukee River, secured its first public approval Wednesday.
A three-level, 28,000-square-foot building would be constructed at the northeast corner of N. Plankinton Ave. and W. St. Paul Ave. It would house a second location for Foxtown Brewing, with a distillery, restaurant and event venue while also providing an indoor gathering place for the dog park planned for the site immediately to the north.
The building’s developer is Mequon-based Fromm Nieman Brands which owns Fromm Family Pet Food in addition to the brewery. Two area business improvement districts, representing Downtown and the Third Ward, have pursued the dog park since 2020, and announced Fromm as the naming rights partner and future neighbor earlier this month.
“This whole thing is about public interaction,” said Perry Smith. Garage doors would be included at the rear of the building, with the site stepping down to the river. Fire pits would be included to make the space welcoming in the winter. There would be more space than usual between tables in the restaurant to create room for dogs. The facility would be open in the morning, to align with the early-morning dog park visitors. The architect said plenty of spaces would be available for pet owners to meet and linger. “It gets you away from your cell phone.”
The site of the building is west of the Historic Third Ward, but included within the boundaries of the area business improvement district and architectural review board. The dog park would be built underneath Interstate 794, with the brewery constructed atop a privately-owned, long-vacant lot.
The board endorsed the proposal, but had plenty of questions about the final riverwalk design, signage, the choice of materials and lighting.
“We have a client that’s going to do something, and I don’t think this is going to be his last building,” said Perry Smith of Fromm CEO Tom Nieman. “He’s involved in every single detail… it won’t be hurry up and slap it up.”
There are several more public approvals necessary. On Thursday, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee will review a proposed land sale for a “sliver” of land at the southern edge of the site. The City Plan Commission will need to approve the final riverwalk design. The Common Council may also need to approve an alley vacation.
The design of the building is intended to take a cue from the Cream City-brick Pritzlaff Building, located to the southwest. But Perry Smith said the firm struggled to find enough reclaimed bricks to clad the new building and is instead opting for cream-colored cut limestone similar to that of the nearby Huron Building.
The building’s river-facing side steps back at each level to expose a deck. It also includes a sizable, staircase-like structure to connect the riverwalk and the building.
“It’s a very expensive building,” said Perry Smith of the design. His firm, Stephen Perry Smith Architects, is leading the design and also designed the original Foxtown Landing in Mequon.
“The beauty of this whole thing has been the team we have in place,” said Perry Smith.
GRAEF is continuing to design the off-leash dog park. Scott Welsh of Colliers International is representing Fromm in purchasing the brewery site, 412-420 N. Plankinton Ave., and was an early supporter of the dog park effort.
A historical marker is expected to be installed eventually immediately south of the new brewery following the county’s formal recognition of the site of the former Black Nite tavern and associated Black Nite Brawl as a landmark. The 1961 brawl, which occurred outside the since-demolished gay bar, is considered a major event in the early history of the gay rights movement.