Development community reacts to Lafayette Crump’s appointment as new DCD commissioner

Selected by mayor to take over for retiring Rocky Marcoux

Lafayette Crump speaks at a DNC Community Conversation event.
Lafayette Crump speaks at a DNC Community Conversation event.

Last updated on May 29th, 2020 at 01:40 pm

Several Milwaukee real estate developers and leaders of real estate industry groups praised the pick of Lafayette Crump as the city’s next commissioner of development.

Mayor Tom Barrett announced Wednesday he was appointing Crump, chief diversity, vendor and engagement officer at the Milwaukee 2020 Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention, to lead the Department of City Development. Pending Common Council approval, Crump would replace Rocky Marcoux as commissioner, who is retiring after 16 years in the role.

Developers who spoke to BizTimes following the announcement noted Crump’s experience with the development process, his attitude and leadership style, and his knowledge of the city and its needs.

Kalan Haywood Sr., president of Milwaukee-based Haywood Group LLC, said he has watched Crump rise in his career from an associate at Quarles & Brady LLP to more recent roles as chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based Prism Technical Management and Marketing Services LLC and president of the board of directors of Safe & Sound Inc.

Prism Technical is a consulting firm that helps developers and contractors with inclusion, compliance monitoring and outreach efforts. It has worked on projects including the Fiserv Forum, Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons and The Hop streetcar. Safe & Sound is a community group that aims to unite residents, youth, law enforcement and community resources to build safe and empowered neighborhoods.

Haywood said it’s those experiences that will make Crump an effective leader at DCD. He said Crump understands the needs of the community and has experience working on the private side of development projects.

“His knowledge of our city and its needs, both development and social, gives him the unique quality that Milwaukee needs now,” Haywood said. “And if there comes a time where his knowledge doesn’t get him to his or the city’s intended goal, his character and integrity will fill the gap.”

A similar sentiment was shared by Juli Kaufmann, president of Milwaukee-based Fix Development LLC.

“I was pleasantly surprised to learn of the appointment,” Kaufmann said in an email. “Commissioner-Elect Crump has impressed me as a smart and inclusive leader with a positive style that projects a sense of hopefulness about Milwaukee’s future. Leading a city department is a challenging role and I think his background and experiences likely prepare him well for the work he will tackle. I’m confident he will advance thoughtful and diverse economic development strategies that work for all of Milwaukee. I’m excited to get to work with him on future projects!”

James Phelps, president of Milwaukee-based JCP Construction, said Crump’s background and experience creates a “special sauce” in qualifying him for the role.

“I believe the Mayor’s pick of Lafayette was a wise choice,” Phelps said in an email. “His background as a lawyer, a business owner and his work in the inclusion space, it is a special sauce of skill sets. I have no doubt Lafayette will sustain the momentum and energy downtown while intentionally growing project activity and energy in all of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.”

John Kersey, executive vice president of Milwaukee-based Zilber Ltd., said his group worked with Crump on The Brewery, the redevelopment of the former Pabst Brewery complex on the west side of downtown.

“We were impressed with all aspects of his work,” Kersey said in a statement. “His knowledge of the development process and his ties to a diverse business community should serve our city well. He is an excellent choice and we look forward to his swift confirmation.”

Jim Villa, chief executive officer of NAIOP Wisconsin, said the selection of Crump as the new commissioner shows Barrett is committed to continuing the development momentum Milwaukee is experiencing.

“Rocky has been an incredible asset to this city, region, and to our state,” Villa said in an email. “His enthusiastic leadership and energy have been instrumental in the tremendous growth we’ve experienced, and the investment in this great city. The appointment of Lafayette Crump shows that Mayor Barrett is more committed than ever to building off this momentum and creating a thriving community through successful real estate development in neighborhoods across Milwaukee.”

Tracy Johnson, president and CEO of the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin, said her group worked with Crump on the Fiserv Forum and streetcar projects and “admire his work and knowledge around business and workforce development.”

“He’s a strategic thinker, excellent communicator and a highly respected leader in our community,” Johnson said in an email. “Coupled with the vastly talented professionals within DCD, there is little they cannot accomplish. We’re looking forward to continuing our work with DCD and the new Commissioner.”

Haywood similarly said that Crump will be joining a strong team at DCD. He said the long-time staffers in the department have faced a variety of challenges and know how to get things done.

“He’s going to be around good people, and they’re all going to make each other better,” Haywood said.

A city spokesman said Crump was not available for an interview Thursday. His confirmation as DCD commissioner first heads to the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee before being considered by the full Common Council.

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Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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