Alterra’s lakefront café project finally under way

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:23 pm

At Alterra Coffee Roasters’ Prospect Avenue home office and café on Milwaukee’s East Side, customers can see the roasters and coffee roasting operation.
Alterra’s next café will educate customers about water use and the sewage process.
Alterra plans to open a café in the remodeled Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s flushing station on Lincoln Memorial Drive across from McKinley Marina. The building also will house the district’s education center.
"We saw this as a unique opportunity to participate in a very interesting project," said Lincoln Fowler, one of Alterra’s owners. "We’ll be able to draw off some of the unique history of the building."
The flushing station was built in 1888 to flush the Milwaukee River with water from Lake Michigan. At the time, it housed the world’s largest pump, pushing water through a one-mile-long tunnel. It still operates today and will continue to be used, said Sheila Charnon, MMSD project manager.
The pump room will have a "Deep Tunnel" model to demonstrate how the sewer operation works, Charnon said. Also, MMSD is working with the Milwaukee Public Museum in designing other educational displays. The flushing station will serve as a demonstration site for stormwater management practices, including a stormwater filtering device and the use of rain barrels to collect and store water. The filtering device will intercept stormwater runoff from the parking lot prior to it entering the stormwater system.
The chance to be a part of an educational facility was a main factor in attracting Alterra to the building, Fowler said. The café will feature a water-driven kinetic sculpture – a moving sculpture fueled by water power. Also, the café’s heating and cooling systems will be water-powered, and there will be an emphasis on green space and environmentally-friendly building practices throughout the facility. A wetland garden will be integrated into a public seating area.
"Just by coming in, customers will be educated on issues such as water use and energy efficiency," Fowler said.
In the future, the café and education center may hold workshops for schools and environmental groups, Fowler said.
The café’s menu will include Alterra staples plus an expanded food menu, Fowler said.
The 1,700 square-foot flushing station building was designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark in 1992. In 1998 MMSD received a "Cream of the Cream City" award from the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission for the restoration of the building.
Alterra will invest about $400,000 into the building, while MMSD will invest $600,000 to $800,000, most of which will be used to improve the parking lot, add landscaping and upgrade the mechanics in the building.
Alterra will use recycled materials and "green" building techniques, such as geothermal heating and cooling. Waste from the café will be composted or recycled.
Construction of a parking lot began in August, and work should begin on the café and education center this month, Charnon said. The café/education center is expected to open late this spring or this summer.

February 15, 2001 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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