Raynetta "Ray" Hill is the new executive director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District No. 8, the BID announced today. Hill replaces former executive director Deshea Agee, who stepped down in June to join Milwaukee-based construction and development firm Emem Group LLC. She worked at the BID previously, serving as associate director from 2016-18. She most recently worked at affordable housing nonprofit organization CommonBond Communities. Her roles there included director of community engagement and fundraising, and regional manager of property management and advancement services. Hill has been a board member of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority since 2019. She also joined the board of Forward Community Investments in June. She was one of more than 80 candidates who the BID interviewed in its search for a new leader. She stood out due to her familiarity with the BID and its initiatives, said James Phelps, president of Milwaukee-based JCP Construction and King Drive BID board president. "She just had a good understanding of what we were about and understood where we wanted to go and continue to go," Phelps said. Hill is taking over at a time when King Drive is witnessing major redevelopment projects, such as the $100 million ThriveOn King project at 2153 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Bader Philanthropies Inc.'s Harpole Building at 3338 N. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "I am looking forward to the continuation of momentum," Hill said. "Deshea did a really awesome job on promoting the Drive. Now, to take it to the next level and increase vitality, and make it cohesive, with all the opportunities of development and projects that can connect and keep that momentum going from both ends of the (BID) boundaries is really important." One such initiative is a "catalytic project," a real estate redevelopment effort somewhere along King Drive between North Avenue and Burleigh Street. Phelps said the BID should have the site under control by early next year. It would be ready to reveal more details at that time. The BID is also working on traffic calming and streetscaping, and business retention and attraction as other major initiatives.
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