Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Land Purchased For Downtown Brewery and Dog Park

Foxtown Brewery takes major step forward on Downtown project.

By - Jan 4th, 2023 05:18 pm
Proposed Foxtown Landing and downtown dog park along the Milwaukee River. Rendering by Stephen Perry Smith Architects.

Proposed Foxtown Landing and downtown dog park along the Milwaukee River. Rendering by Stephen Perry Smith Architects.

The $12 million proposal to develop Foxtown Landing, a downtown dog park and brewery along the Milwaukee River, took a significant step forward at the end of 2022.

An affiliate of Fromm Nieman Brands purchased the vacant, 0.43-acre parcel, 412-420 N. Plankinton Ave., that forms the majority of the development site for $995,000 on Dec. 30. The family company, which owns Foxtown Brewing and Fromm Family Pet Food, would develop a dog-friendly, three-story brewing, distilling and event complex at the corner of W. St. Paul Ave. and N. Plankinton Ave. Immediately to the north, a publicly-owned dog park would be created underneath Interstate 794. An extension of the Milwaukee RiverWalk would link the two and provide public access.

The Milwaukee Downtown and the Historic Third Ward business improvement districts have pursued the dog park since 2020, and announced Fromm as the naming-rights partner and future neighbor in November. “It’s an amenity where we are outperformed by many of our peer cities,” said Milwaukee Downtown economic development director Matt Dorner to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Dec. 6.

“There is a huge need in urban settings for dog parks,” said company CEO Tom Nieman. The nearest dog parks are approximately three miles away, either to the north in Riverwest or south in Bay View.

The design of the 28,000-square-foot building is intended to take a cue from the Cream City-brick Pritzlaff Building located to the southwest. It is being designed by Stephen Perry Smith Architects. 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 would be the second location for Foxtown Brewing after the company’s Mequon brewery. The Fromm family’s history traces back to fox farming and animal vaccine development. “We’re an entrepreneurial company,” said Nieman.

GRAEF is continuing to design the off-leash dog park, which would include synthetic turf in some or all of the area. Scott Welsh of Colliers International represented Fromm in purchasing the brewery site and was an early supporter of the dog park effort.

Including private space, the dog-friendly area would cover approximately 20,000 square feet. Dorner said the intention is to operate the facility much like other Milwaukee County dog parks. He said the plan is for the dog park to open in 2023.

“I think you are going to run into a problem where you have more dog owners than you have space,” said committee chair Alderman Michael Murphy.

The privately-owned property was sold by Walker’s Landing Associates, which can be traced in city property records to a Boise, ID-residence owned by Jill and Dan Brodkey. The couple, longtime residents of Ozaukee County, has owned the property since 1986 according to city assessment records. It had been marketed for sale for years.

Fromm Neiman would also purchase a 5,481-square-foot lot, 406 N. Plankinton Ave., owned by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee for $25,000. The city has owned the site since 1987 as a result of a freeway reconfiguration project and approved selling the property in December.

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. “We are having active conversations about that as well,” said Third Ward BID director Paul Schwartz.

“This is a great project,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman. He said the lack of parking would be offset by streetcar access. “At some point maybe they’ll start allowing dogs on the streetcar… but we can discuss that at a later date.” Bauman had previously opposed plans to turn the site into a gas station.

Foxtown Renderings

Dog Park Renderings

Site Photos

One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Land Purchased For Downtown Brewery and Dog Park”

  1. Mingus says:

    It is great to see a developer move forward with a project without asking for a handout from the City of Milwaukee. I find it ironic that developers often promote so many “can’t miss” projects and then say they need public financing to make it viable.

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