Historic Milwaukee, Inc. to hold forum on value of historic preservation

Historic Milwaukee, Inc. (HMI) will host a panel discussion Thursday, Jan. 17, focused on the development of the East Side Commercial Historic District.

The discussion, titled “The East Side Commercial Historic District: From Controversy to Catalyst” will bring together preservationists, developers, property owners, businesses within the district and neighborhood associations to explore the benefits of historic preservation in Milwaukee and the development tools within preservation.

According to Anna-Marie Opgenorth, executive director of HMI, in terms of preserving historic buildings, preservation is one of the highest job generating economic development options available. Preservation efforts also fuel money into the local economy and maintain the city’s aesthetic value.

Milwaukee is renowned for the beauty of its architecture with its European style, Opgenorth said.

“We’re very connected to our roots through our architecture,” she said. “That’s an asset.”

The discussion falls at a time when the East Side Commercial Historic District, bound primarily by Water Street, Wisconsin Avenue and Clybourn Street, faces heavy renovation and revitalization with new construction of the Marriott Hotel, the transformation of the Loyalty Building into the new Hilton Garden Inn and restoration of the Iron Block Hotel by Dental Associates.

The event will raise awareness about Milwaukee’s historic treasures within the East Side Commercial Historic District and open up dialogue among stakeholders who are contributing to its development, Opgenorth said.

“What we need to do is have more discussions that allow people to raise questions without putting anything at stake so we can close the information gap and so that when decisions are made we’re not making those decisions based on misinformation,” Opgenorth said.

Bruce Block, co-chair of Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren’s real estate practice, will serve as the discussion moderator. The panel will feature Steve Schwartz, chief executive officer of the First Hospitality Group with the Loyalty building; University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor Matt Jarosz; Mark Demsky of Dental Associates and the Iron Block Building; and Josh Jeffers, owner of the Mitchell Building.

The discussion will also change the perception of the downtown area and continue to increase the vibrancy of the city, Opgenorth hopes.

“It’s also an opportunity for us to get excited and basically to share in our collective experience of Milwaukee and do a better job of moving Milwaukee into the future by having conversations that increase our understanding of other stakeholders’ positions and perspective to mitigate future controversy,” she said.

The panel discussion will be held at the office of sponsor Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren, located at 1000 N. Water St. on the 17th floor in downtown Milwaukee. A network reception will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the discussion at 7 p.m. Cost to attend both the reception and panel is $20 for HMI members and $25 for nonmembers. Cost for the panel only is $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers.

To register, visit http://historicmilwaukee.org/ or call the HMI office at 414-277-7795.

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