Mixing realistic and bold thinking for downtown Milwaukee’s future|Ep. 116

Last updated on March 3rd, 2022 at 10:59 am

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On this week’s BizTimes MKE Podcast, Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown BID 21, and Tanya Fonseca, long range planning manager at Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, discuss the process for updating the downtown area plan, during a recent Rotary Club of Milwaukee presentation. In addition to taking questions, they involved their audience in providing feedback about the current and future state of downtown.

Here are a few ideas that came up during the episode:

Taking inspiration from West North Avenue in Wauwatosa:

Weirick said her personal view is the work done along North Avenue has made the environment more user friendly.

“I think with the streetscape that we’ve seen occur and the traffic calming of West North Avenue, that alone, I feel, has provided a much calmer experience as a pedestrian and a shopper in that area,” she said. “”What I take away from the work … is that it does make a difference when you think about that public realm space.”

On the potential for MacArthur Square

“Given that the Public Museum is moving, that just gives it a major opportunity for that Rubik’s Cube to kind of be reconsidered in a new way,” Fonseca said, later adding the MPM building is “likely to be fully redeveloped” at some point in the future.

She also noted the possibility of the use of the state office building on North 6th Street changing.

“There’s a little more flexibility and give in all that infrastructure there, so certainly the public museum is low hanging fruit, that’s a site that needs to be planned for and will be, and certainly there’s going to be other considerations that spin off from that,” Fonseca said.

Mixing ambition with realistic plans

Weirick said those working on the plan are deliberately trying to engage young people, innovative and bold thinkers and diverse group of community members in the process.

“I think our objective is to be bold,” she said. “We have to be bold and we have to be innovative and let’s just continue to shoot for the stars.”

Fonseca there is a need to be realistic, but also ambitious.

“Unless we’re ambitious we’re going to keep having sessions like this where we are yearning for more,” she said. “Just want to highlight a few other big projects, some ideas that people thought were wild. In Milwaukee we’ve torn down highways, interstates, so that we could have more space in our downtown and look at Bucks in Six and our Deer District, that wouldn’t be possible if we had said, that’s a crazy idea to take this freeway down, we can’t ever do that.”

Rotary Club of Milwaukee

In partnership with the Rotary Club of Milwaukee

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.