New York-based Planet to Plate Inc. wants to operate an urban farm within an industrial building in Milwaukee’s Century City business park.
The company’s plans consist of spending $150,000 to renovate a portion of the industrial building at 3945 N. 31st St. for an indoor growing operation, according to a permit recently filed with the city.
The industrial building is owned by an affiliate of Good City Brewing, which has offices and distribution operations in the space. Planet to Plate operations would be confined to an approximately 8,900-square-foot space within the building, said Christopher Corkery, Planet to Plate chief executive officer.
Planet to Plate aims to bring hyper-local fresh greens to the Milwaukee market, allowing food businesses to reinvest in “food deserts” and improve the socio-economic conditions of these areas,” according to a building code variance and commercial alterations permit filed with the city.
"Really the goal is to create supply chain resilience in food systems and create new jobs in food tech," Corkery said, adding that because of the coronavirus pandemic, food security has never been more relevant.
Planet to Plate at Century City would be operational by this spring pending city approval, Corkery said.
Planet to Plate's proposal at Century City could bring renewed momentum to the business park after Strauss Brands’ proposal for a $60 million facility became mired in controversy in 2019. Strauss Brands withdrew its proposal days after Ald. Khalif Rainey, whose district includes Century City, pulled his support for the project due to public pressure.
The Century City Business Park is located at the former site of the A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive manufacturing complex, which once employed thousands of workers. After Tower Automotive shut down the operation in 2006, the site was acquired by the city, which has spent years converting it into a business park.
While Spanish train maker Talgo Inc. and Good City Brewing have established operations in Century City, efforts to attract more companies to the area have been slow in-part because of location challenges including crime, facility security, employee safety and its distance from the freeway.
Last year, Planet to Plate received special use permits from the city to operate an urban farm at the Cecilia Annex building and an adjacent vacant parking lot near the northwest corner of West Wells Street and North 27th Street on Milwaukee’s west side.
However, due to the scale of the project and coronavirus related challenges, Planet to Plate has shifted its focus to the smaller Century City proposal, which Corkery said will be a more immediate response to local food systems disrupted by the pandemic.
“It’s something we (still) hope to do but obviously that’s a grander project and COVID certainly disrupted much of the business community,” Corkery said. "We hope to continue on (the Cecilia Annex building) project in the future.”