From Spur to Spectacular
Milwaukee is one of very few cities in the country to demolish an elevated freeway for the benefit of surrounding neighborhoods and to create new valuable land for development. The land was once the Park East Freeway, a mile-long spur that was built as part of a larger plan to encircle the Downtown business district with expressways.
The freeway project, however, was never completed due in part to opposition from neighborhood groups and businesses.
Though the land east of the spur had been cleared for the right-of-way needed to continue the Park East Freeway, it remained undeveloped until the state removed its designation as a transportation corridor. This led to the creation of the East Pointe Neighborhood, a community of shops, townhouses, condominiums and rental properties, part of a revival of residential construction in Downtown Milwaukee.
The success of the East Pointe Neighborhood and the resurgence of Downtown Milwaukee convinced officials the time was right to demolish Downtown freeways and replace them with mixed-use neighborhoods. In 1999, the removal of the spur was approved by the State of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee. Three years later, utilizing Federal ISTEA money and local Tax Increment Financing, removal of the Park East Freeway began.
The elevated freeway spur was replaced with the at-grade, six-lane McKinley Boulevard, which is fully connected to the existing and newly recreated street grid. New block configurations opened up 24 acres of downtown property for redevelopment.
Simultaneously, the City of Milwaukee created the Park East Redevelopment Plan that outlines development rules and guidelines in clear and easy to understand terms to assist developers through the entitlement process. The land became an open canvas with flexible zoning for developments that permits residential, office, retail, entertainment and light industrial uses.
Since the removal of the freeway the Park East Corridor has seen over $1,060,000,000 of private investment in development projects, with the potential for an additional investment of $250 million on the few remaining undeveloped parcels.
For more information or questions regarding the Park East Corridor, contact Lori Lutzka at (414) 286-5846 or Lori.Lutzka@milwaukee.gov
Hammes Company making move to the Park East Corridor
Construction is well underway on the new headquarters for the Hammes Company. Situated on the northeast corner of Water and Knapp Streets, this $30 million, 5-story office building will be home to the company's 80 employees. Completion of the 94,000 square foot building will mark the headquarter's move from Brookfield to Milwaukee, a move the company's founder, Jon Hammes had been looking to make for some time, "We're really excited about being part of the city".
Park East Welcomes Bader Rutter
The Brookfield-based marketing firm, Bader Rutter, officially made the Park East Corridor its home in April of 2017 with its relocation to 1433 North Water Street. Led by Wangard Partners, the former Laacke and Joys retail building was partially rehabbed in combination with a new construction building to create over 110,000 square feet of leaseable office space. Bader Rutter has leased 60,000 square feet and moved its 250 employees from Brookfield to this thoughtfully designed new space. The project includes a riverwalk extension and once again activates the space along the Milwaukee River formerly occupied by Laacke and Joys.
The North End Now Complete
The pace of development since 2012 has picked up significantly for the Mandel Group, particularly along North Water Street. The third phase of their North End development, known as Aperture, opened in the spring of 2016. This $53 million phase of the project includes Wisconsin's first Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, a riverwalk extension, as well as 168 apartments and indoor parking. Following close behind Aperture's opening, in the fall of 2017, Vingette, the North End's fourth phase opened to the public. This phase is a 5-story 155 unit residential apartment building, which includes a 400 linear foot riverwalk extension nearly completing the stretch of walk along the east bank of the Milwaukee River from Cherry Street northeast to Brady Street. Across Water Street, the fifth and final phase of the larger development is now complete and includes 88 luxury apartments with a pet spa, dog run, and a rooftop club room. A draw for future residents of the North End is that they will have access to the amenities in all other phases, including the outdoor pool and patio area at Vingette.