The City of Milwaukee has fostered greater utilization and appreciation of the Milwaukee River by partnering with private developers and/or Business Improvement Districts to build a continuous system of riverwalks on both sides of the Milwaukee River. Since 1994, public-private cost sharing has facilitated construction of more than 12,000 linear feet of riverwalk segments, with an average public contribution of 70% of the cost of construction.
To create a predictable and equitable development process, the City adopted a formal policy in October 2006 that defines the City’s cost sharing formula for all future riverwalk segments in which City funds are utilized.
The Riverwalk Funding Policy states that when the City provides funds for a portion of the construction of riverwalk segments on private property, the City’s cost share shall be established at 70% of riverwalk construction costs up to $2,000 per linear foot and 50% of the dock wall costs up to $800 per linear foot (adjusted annually based on the industry index, using 2006 as the Base Year). In return for public financial assistance, the City of Milwaukee receives a permanent public access easement along the surface of the riverwalk. To date, the city has funded its portion of riverwalk costs through a former Capitol Riverwalk Development Fund, the Department of City Development (DCD) Development Fund and seven Tax Incremental Financing Districts (#s 22, 34, 41, 48, 56, 68, 70, 73, & 79).
Link to Common Council Resolution
Substitute resolution approving a public-private cost sharing policy for future riverwalk development within riverwalk Site Plan Overlay Districts (SPRODs)
Read the resolution adopting the policy.
To ensure compliance with the Public Trust Doctrine, the City worked in cooperation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to create a Riverfront Comprehensive Plan, titled Riverlink Guidelines, that would comply with the State Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine. Read the Riverlink Guidelines.
In 1993, a resolution creating the RiverWalk Site Plan Review Overlay District (SPROD), was adopted. The purpose of the RiverWalk SPROD is to provide an opportunity to create new RiverWalk segments which are compatible with their neighbors while encouraging creativity, variety and excellence in design and layout.Read the RiverWalk Site Plan Review Overlay District Guidelines.