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Riverwalk Regulation & Funding


The City of Milwaukee fosters a greater utilization and appreciation of the Miwlaukee River by partnering with private developers and/or Business Improvement Districts to build a continuous system of riverwalks along both sides of the River.  Since 1994, public-private cost sharing has facilitated construction of more than 12,500 linear feet of riverwalk, 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 funding policy in 2006.  This policy 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 costruction 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 surfaace of the riverwalk.  To date, the city has funded its portion of the riverwalk costs through a form capital riverwalk development fund, the Department of City Development (DCD) Development Fund and nine Tax Incremental Financing Districts (#s 22, 34, 41, 48, 56, 68, 70, 73 & 79).

Link to Common Council Resolution, File Number 060578
Substitute resolution approving a public-private cost sharing policy for future riverwalk development within riverwalk Site Plan Overlay Districts (SPRODs)


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 aer compatible with their neighbors, while encouraging creativity, variety and excellence in design and layout.  Read the Riverwalk Site Plan Review Overlay District Guidelines.

For more specific information regarding the City of Milwaukee's Overlay Districts, please see the Department of City Development's Zoning Applications and Procedures webpage.

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