Jeramey Jannene

East Side Pedestrian Plaza Opens

The crossroads of the East Side are now a little bit easier to traverse.

By - May 26th, 2023 04:45 pm
E. Ivanhoe Pl. Plaza. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

E. Ivanhoe Pl. Plaza. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

There’s more room to move on Milwaukee’s East Side.

A long-anticipated pedestrian plaza near the intersection of N. Farwell Avenue and E. North Avenue opened Friday. The one-way section of E. Ivanhoe Place leading from the intersection is now closed to vehicle traffic.

A mix of concrete barriers and planters shield the plaza, which runs from the busy intersection southeast to Black Cat Alley between N. Farwell Avenue and N. Prospect Avenue.

Tables, chairs, picnic tables and greenery fill the former street, which now serves as an extension of the patios for Crossroads Collective food hall and Hooligan’s Super Bar. Visitors to those businesses and others nearby are able to use the space.

“I cannot overstate how significant the plaza is, both for the East Side and for the city as a whole,” said New Land Enterprises managing director Tim Gokhman. The company owns Crossroads Collective as well as a number of properties on the East Side. “For the East Side Business Improvement District, this is the implementation of an idea that was created by the city and neighborhood stakeholders in 2009. It signifies a new and exciting East Side, and will serve as an example to the rest of the city how activated public spaces can benefit residents, businesses and visitors to our communities.”

A confluence of factors led to the idea becoming a reality. New Mayor Cavalier Johnson declared reckless driving a public safety crisis as his first act and directed departments to pursue remedies, new area alderman Jonathan Brostoff is a vocal champion for pedestrian safety and the Department of City Development identified a funding source to cover the cost of other safety upgrades. Up to $3.8 million was allocated in December to make safety upgrades along the corridor.

The 2019 citywide pedestrian plan identified the stretch of E. North Ave. through the East Side as one of the city’s 10 most-dangerous corridors for pedestrians. The plaza helps simplify the diagonal intersection, removing a possible conflict point between pedestrians and vehicles.

Not all of the E. Ivanhoe Place block was converted to a plaza. The eastern portion was converted to a two-way street, allowing continued motor vehicle access to the Educators Credit Union drive-through window via N. Prospect Ave.

Gokhman cautioned that what has been done isn’t the end goal.

“The most critical pieces are still ahead,” said the developer. “We are working with the city and hoping to attract corporate and institutional partners to make sure that the appropriate investment is made into the plaza. If we just put up jersey barriers and picnic tables, it will never reach its potential.”

“We, as a BID, believe that the initial streetscape improvements on North Avenue can serve as a catalyst for additional improvements all along the avenue,” said BID director David Smulyan in a statement issued on Nov. 3 as part of the funding approval process.

“This project basically does everything that’s within my vision for the future of this area,” said Brostoff, referencing new ‘affordable’ housing and pedestrian safety improvements, in December. “It’s exactly in line with the future of the 3rd District and I’m thrilled we are able to move forward with it.”

On Friday, Brostoff was on hand with New Land Enterprises employees to greet the delivery of concrete barriers for the area.

“This is an incredible win for Milwaukee. We want safer streets for all ages and abilities. Every time we create a gathering space like Ivanhoe Plaza it serves as an attraction for neighborhoods, improves foot traffic for businesses and provides with a fun, great place to visit,” said the alderman.


Pre-Construction Photos and Plans for Neighborhood

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One thought on “East Side Pedestrian Plaza Opens”

  1. says:

    Jeramey, I love what Crossroads is doing, but I hope they are just starting, and those obnoxious orange barriers will soon be gone. I was not able to see in your article what is happening with that. Is there a plan to ger rid of the temporary cement barricades and orange things. And parking meters? Actually I plan to go there in the next couple days to look for myself and see what it looks like. Thank You.
    Bill Klatte

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