Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

35th and Vliet To Become Milwaukee’s Art Intersection

Derrick Cainion hopes to create sculpture garden, art gallery, artist housing and more.

By - Jul 6th, 2023 06:16 pm
Art Intersection MKE conceptual rendering. Rendering by KCB Buildings.

Art Intersection MKE conceptual rendering. Rendering by KCB Buildings.

Derrick Cainion has big plans for the intersection of N. 35th Street and W. Vliet Street.

Since 2022 he has been working to develop what he has named Art Intersection MKE, and hopes to develop a mural and sculpture garden first and then add an art gallery, artist housing and event space. He’s seeking to buy eight vacant lots from the city.

“The point of Art Intersection Milwaukee is to have a space where people can learn, create and celebrate through art and community, where people can come together and view public art and change the face of the neighborhood and also drive economic development on the Vliet Street corridor,” said Cainion to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on June 13.

A $260,000 grant from the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District‘s Fresh Coast Clean Communities program would pay for constructing stormwater retention infrastructure on the site. An additional $265,000 project, backed by a mix of grants and financing, would cover the demolition of the fire-damaged home in the middle of the site and the building of a solar pavilion — an outdoor meeting space sheltered by solar panels.

A second phase would include a residence and art gallery space on the west side of the property. “We’re looking at having that built out at the end of next year,” he said. He estimated that portion as a $700,000 project. “All in, about $1.5 million for this project.”

A third phase would include shipping-container-style live-work units along N. 35th Street on the east side.

LISC Milwaukee‘s Brew City Match program and the Harley-Davidson Foundation are already backing the project.

“We have a lot of momentum,” said Cainion. He said the intent is to use the eastern green infrastructure space to host events during the 2024 Republican National Convention.

“I think we’re going to make a really big difference in our community,” said Cainion, who drew praise for already activating and maintaining the site with temporary art. He started that work in 2022.

“Another great development for the 15th Aldermanic District,” said Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II. “I’m impressed by his perseverance… thank you so much for what you’re doing over there.”

“The site has had vacant homes and empty lots for quite a while,” said Yves LaPierre, Department of City Development program manager.

Cainion has already acquired two lots in the cluster. In January 2022, he paid Tom Straub, who owns several properties in the area, $1,000 for parcels at 3530 W. Vliet St. and 3542 W. Vliet St. He would pay $1 per lot for the eight city properties, but must secure financing for the sale to be advanced.

“This is a great project,” said committee chair Michael Murphy.

Cainion drew praise from Ald. Jonathan Brostoff for his long-time work as a sign-language interpreter.

KCB Buildings has created conceptual architectural renderings for the site, which totals approximately 38,000 square feet.

On June 20, the full council voted to give Cainion and his firm, Vliet Street Development, an exclusive right to negotiate to purchase the properties through June 2025 with a one-year extension available.

Cainion intends to purchase the parcels at 3510, 3514, 3516-3518, 3526, 3538 and 3602 W. Vliet St. and 1415 N. 35th St. The city acquired the parcels through property tax foreclosure between 1997 and 2015.

A series of projects are underway just to the west. Triciclo Peru is planning a food truck park and also working to buy a city-owned building for a frozen empanada production space. Its brick-and-mortar is just to the west, next to Pete’s Pops.



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Related Legislation: File 230194

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