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Menomonee Valley redevelopments could create 800 jobs: Slideshow

Tuesday, April 24, 2018   (0 Comments)
Business Journal

Sean Ryan



Milwaukee officials this fall may consider building roads onto a riverside site in the Menomonee Valley so it can be put on the market for sale, potentially for a food hall and manufacturing buildings.

The city owns about 10 acres on the north bank of the Menomonee River underneath the Interstate 94 high-rise bridge. It is among six properties that were recently included in a design charrette that recommended redevelopment concepts. Those sessions have proven effective in inspiring development in other areas of Milwaukee.

See the attached slideshow for renderings and results of that charrette, which was led by University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Community Design Solutions and the Menomonee Valley Partners.

The 40 acres studied in the session have the potential for developments that could create 800 jobs, and make the Menomonee River a recreation destination, said Corey Zetts, executive director of the Menomonee Valley Partners. Presenting the plans on Tuesday, she said the hope is the concepts arising from the session will one day become real.

City officials already are moving to attract developers to the land under I-94. Milwaukee development commissioner Rocky Marcoux said the Department of City Development is drawing up plans to prepare its riverside land to attract companies. Like other properties studied in the charrette, it has challenges, particularly with road access.

"The idea would be if we can get the roads in, we can get people confident that you can do development there,” Marcoux said. "Right now it’s a mound of dirt and once you get in, it’s a box canyon.”

Marcoux said his department this fall could ask city elected officials to consider spending money up-front to build new roads for the site, now called the "Kneeland Properties.” That would include extending West Mount Vernon Avenue east through the property. The road could extend farther east, running south of the Intermodal Station and U.S. Postal Service building to connect with South Second Street, he said.

That would build a link to the buzzing 3rd Ward neighborhood, Marcoux said. That concept would require a partnership with Chicago-based R2 Cos., which bought the large U.S. Postal Service building on West St. Paul Avenue in 2015. Marcoux said he has not yet spoken with R2 Cos. about the idea.

"I think we could really get people excited about that property," Marcoux said. "It’s probably the highest visibility site that is left in the immediate area.”

Milwaukee-based HGA Architects & Engineers drew up development concepts for the land through the charrette. The ideas include a new food hall on the eastern tip of Kneeland at a bend in the Menomonee River. An extension of the river walk and new boat docks would let people float up to the site.

The western area of the property could host manufacturing buildings for the food and beverage industry. Those buildings could have production space, but also a retail area in the front of the building with stores to sell their products, similar to the visitor experience at Palermo Villa Inc.’s Menomonee Valley building, for example.

The city could pay for the Mount Vernon Avenue extension and other site prep work with a tax incremental financing district, Marcoux said. It would represent a speculative play by the city, which would spend that money up-front before securing private developments for the land.

The city land would be put on the market after the infrastructure work is done. Property taxes from new buildings on the site would pay off those infrastructure costs. 

"I think the one thing that is holding people back is they can’t figure out how to get in and out of there,” Marcoux said. "No developer is going to come in and say I’m going to build a road.”

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