Graham Kilmer
MKE County

New Firms Will Study Rehab, Replacement or Demo of The Domes

Construction consultant Concord Group will review options for redevelopment and demolition of The Domes.

By - Mar 18th, 2023 11:14 am
Mitchell Park Domes' Tropical Dome. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mitchell Park Domes’ Tropical Dome. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A contractor has been selected for what policymakers are hoping is the final whack at creating a plan for the future of the Mitchell Park Domes.

At the end of 2022, the Milwaukee County Board approved funding for a consultant to analyze four redevelopment options for The Domes, including demolition, developing up-to-date cost estimates for each plan so that the board can weigh them against each other. The goal for the project is to give policymakers all the information they need to make a decision about The Domes.

The county has been wrestling with what to do about The Domes for approximately a decade, including a task force that worked for three years on the problem. And in that time it has produced a litany of reports, cost estimates and reviews of the facility. But supervisors expressed frustration when, after all that time, the county was still without an actionable plan for The Domes. The new consultant will be charged with collecting, analyzing and reporting all the relevant data and information so that policymakers can decide, once and for all, what that plan will be.

The Concord Group, a consulting firm with offices in Milwaukee and five other states around the country, was selected after bidding approximately $145,000 on the project. Cost management and cost estimating are two fields of expertise advertised by Concord. The firm plans to subcontract with McEnroe Consulting Engineers, engineers and planners from GRAEF and architects from The Kubala Washatko Architects. Toward the end of the project, architectural renderings and visualizations of the various options for The Domes will be created.

The Domes, built in 1959, are in great need of repair and maintenance. Steel mesh netting was put up in 2016 to catch pieces of concrete falling away from the structure. The Domes don’t just have structural sustainability problems, the facility is not sustainable as an operation. The Domes have long been operating at a loss for the county, representing a liability for a cash-strapped parks department and a county government that may need to make more than $100 million in budget cuts over the next five years.

Per the resolution adopted by the county board, Concord will study options for The Domes that include limited repairs to the structures, a full renovation, development of a previously envisioned “New Urban Botanical Park and Conservatory” or demolition.

This study will mark the first time that demolition has been contemplated by the county board. It has been operating under a formal policy that the only option for The Domes was their “repair and preservation.” It was included to give the board realistic cost estimates to weigh against renovation and preservation.

The supervisor for the area Juan Miguel Martinez pushed back against the consideration of demolition as the board reworked its policy last fall. But he ultimately supported the study, saying it was the “best available option that we have to be able to move forward.” He told Urban Milwaukee in February that, while he was still apprehensive about demolition being considered, he was “elated” that the project was moving forward and creating momentum for The Domes.

The Domes

UPDATE: The description of which personnel from GRAEF were supporting the project was expanded.

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Categories: MKE County, Weekly

One thought on “MKE County: New Firms Will Study Rehab, Replacement or Demo of The Domes”

  1. BigRed81 says:

    Two County Executives are responsible for funding deficits.
    1. Ament created a “golden” pension plan over 30 years ago. The County has been hemorrhaging money ever since.
    2. Walker broke his campaign promise to fix the pension scandal. He did not. Instead, he literally used time in office to run for governor.

    Both failed to maintain County properties, allowing them to fall into wrack & ruin!
    • McDonell Parking Structure: resulting in death, injury & major financial settlement due to lawsuits.
    • Mitchell Park Horticultural DOMES: Failing to maintain a beloved landmark. Would that happen in a suburban location?
    There’s a hidden agenda: privatization for profit.

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