Kaid Benfield Archive


Milwaukee bounces back, sustainably

Kaid Benfield

Posted October 5, 2009 at 3:19PM

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   downtown Milwaukee (by: Dan Mullen, creative commons license)

  The Brewery Juneau Ave entrance, before (by: The Brewery Project LLC)  The Brewery under restoration (by: Jeramey Jannene, creative commons license)

It's been terrific to observe and report on America's great downtown comebacks, quite clearly a trend at this point.  The latest set of facts I have run across concerns Milwaukee, courtesy of the very well-written blog Urban Engagement Webcity

The story cites progressive zoning changes that dramatically boosted downtown housing and the removal of a downtown freeway segment that opened up land for walkable development, both attributed to the leadership of former mayor John Norquist.  Here's some more from the story:

"The city has also successfully capitalized on its most prominent asset, the Milwaukee River. Collaborative efforts between downtown businesses, nonprofits and city government have led to the revitalization of a stretch of walkable landscape along the city's downtown waterfront. The "River Walk" now attracts locals and tourists alike to its outdoor dining, retail, and community arts activities . . .

"While the downtown area serves as the crown jewel for central Milwaukee's resurgence, there are several communities on the periphery that hold bragging rights of their own. With a swanky public market, the Historic Third Ward district continues its upward trajectory of revitalization; the Brady Street district, a former '60s hippie outpost, now attracts an eclectic mix of creatives, bohemians, and early retirees to its retail and housing amenities."

  site of The Brewery redevelopment (by: The Brewery Project LLC)  rendering of The Brewery (by: The Brewery Project LLC)

   one of The Brewery's historic buildings (by: The Brewery Project LLC)  part of The Brewery's Zilber park (by: Dave Reid, creative commons license)

One of my favorite projects enrolled in the LEED-ND pilot program is The Brewery, the comprehensive revitalization of downtown Milwaukee's once-badly-declined Pabst Brewery property, covering some 20 acres and including the restoration of over 20 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places, all centrally located and highly transit-accessible.  The developer, Joseph J. Zilber, is aiming for a platinum-level certification (not yet confirmed), and has adopted a set of sustainability guidelines (table of contents here) intended to guide the project through a range of practices, including - in addition to the preservation and reuse of historic buildings - recycling of construction demolition, contamination abatement, landscaping, pocket parks, efficient street lighting, heat island reduction, water efficiency and stormwater management, green building practices, and more.

There's a small but interesting walk-through video on the project's website.  All of the photos and renderings accompanying this post other than the one at the top are from the project.  The last one on the right is from Dave Reid, whose Urban Milwaukee blog is highly recommended.