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CONTACT: Brian Rothgery, [email protected]

Mayor Cavalier Johnson, City Officials to Break Ground on Vel R. Phillips Plaza

City of Milwaukee is constructing a public space named in honor of the iconic Milwaukee political activist and civil rights leader featuring both civic and transit amenities

MILWAUKEE – Friday, July 21, at 9:15am (CT), Mayor Cavalier Johnson and City officials will celebrate the groundbreaking of a new public plaza to be named in honor of Milwaukee politician, attorney, jurist and civil rights activist, Vel R. Phillips. Mayor Johnson will be joined by members of the Milwaukee Common Council, the family of Vel R. Phillips, and local leaders and stakeholders.

Vel R. Phillips was both the first African American and first woman elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, the first female judge in Milwaukee County and the first black judge in the State of Wisconsin. She was the first woman to hold the office of Secretary of State in Wisconsin and the first African American to win a statewide election. Up until her passing in April of 2018, Phillips was an active leader in pushing for social justice, education and equal opportunities for minorities in Milwaukee.

The future Vel R. Phillips Plaza will be situated south of Wisconsin Avenue between North 5th Street and North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved an amendment to Tax Incremental District (TID) #48 (Park East Corridor Redevelopment) that is providing $15,750,000 for the construction of the approximately 30,000 square foot plaza, a 2,900 square foot food/beverage retail space, a manicured garden, a flex space that could host farmers markets, food trucks or other community events, an informational kiosk, public art installations, and a station to accommodate Milwaukee County’s Bus-Rapid Transit Line. The financing package also includes $4.35 million for infrastructure and lighting improvements in the area and $500,000 for the Commercial Revitalization Grant Program that provides financial assistance to commercial property owners for building renovations and improvements.

The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) is seeking proposals from qualified vendors to plan, manage, and operate the food/beverage retail space at the future Vel R. Phillips Plaza. RACM is also seeking development proposals for the approximately 55,626 square foot parcel located south of the future Vel R. Phillips Plaza. More information about both Requests for Proposals (RFP) is available HERE.

WHO: Mayor Cavalier Johnson

Family of Vel R. Phillips

Milwaukee Common Council Members

City of Milwaukee Officials

Local Leaders and Stakeholders

WHEN: Friday, July 21, 2023, at 9:15am (CT)

*Please arrive 10 minutes early for set-up*

*Photo opportunities following press conference*

WHERE: Parking Lot on West Wisconsin Avenue and North Vel R. Phillips Avenue (South of Wisconsin Avenue between North 5th Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue)

NOTE: Members of the media should RSVP to Brian Rothgery at [email protected].



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