Brady Street pedestrianization study to focus on two-block stretch

GRAEF and The Kubala Washatko Architects developing plans for area between North Warren Avenue and North Franklin Place

The sun sets on East Brady Street.
The sun sets on East Brady Street. Credit: Maredithe Meyer

Last updated on January 19th, 2023 at 01:05 pm

After announcing plans in September to study possible pedestrianization of the commercial corridor on Milwaukee’s East Side, the Brady Street Business Improvement District is narrowing the scope of that study to focus on a two-block stretch of the street.

Brady BID executive director Rachel Taylor confirmed Tuesday that the BID has hired GRAEF and Kubala Washatko Architects to come up with pedestrianization plans for the street between North Warren Avenue and North Franklin Place. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee urban planning students will also be assisting the BID with the project.

Those two blocks have the largest business density and fewest driveways and parking lots on Brady Street, Taylor said in an email. The roughly quarter mile stretch is also home to several of the street’s busiest bars and restaurants, including Jo-Cat’s Pub, Club Brady and Saint Bibiana.

The BID’s initial announcement of the study came just days after a hit-and-run crash resulted in the death of Milwaukee man just east of the street’s intersection with North Franklin Place.

Limiting the study and/or closure to the two blocks between Franklin and Warren would also relieve any heartburn on the part of businesses on the western and far eastern ends of Brady Street, like Walgreen’s or Glorioso’s, which might be negatively impacted by customers not being able to directly reach the stores by car.

“While we will still need to consider the driveways and parking lots that are in this area, it’s not as many as the west (end) of Brady Street,” Taylor wrote, adding that the BID’s budget constraints were “also an important aspect of narrowing down the focus for the study.”

“The Brady Street BID is funding this study and will be working with Alderman (Jonathan) Brostoff on finding additional funding if a plan is agreed upon,” Taylor noted.

While the BID would work with Brostoff, and city development and public works departments to come up with a workable plan for the two blocks, any proposal to close any part of the street to vehicle traffic would have to be approved by the Common Council and Mayor Cavalier Johnson.

While the hope is to have any changes implemented by this summer, Taylor said the BID “will not sacrifice community meetings or cut corners just to do something” by then.

“Careful consideration, and multiple conversations with business owners, residents, and the general public will be most important,” she wrote. “If a plan is agreed upon by all stakeholders, it will be implemented during the summer months then removed for winter so that the community and business owners can reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of that plan.”

Speaking about the study on Tuesday, Craig Huebner, planning & urban design practice team leader at GRAEF, said the firm is excited to be “part of Brady Street’s new chapter that embraces the past, but also recognizes that the street must become a much better version of itself.”

“We look forward to working with our partners at the BID, TKWA, Alderman Brostoff, residents and business and property owners to create a word-class, thriving Brady Street for everyone,” Huebner added.

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Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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