My aspirational goal for the Milwaukee region for the next 25 years would be for the city of Milwaukee to fully implement its Comprehensive City Plan throughout all of Milwaukee.
We have seen the success of this planning process during the past 25 years: Areas of Milwaukee that had been in decline and were facing significant challenges were transformed by a methodical, strategic approach to economic development involving highest and best property uses, infrastructure improvements and inspirational catalytic projects. This occurred not only in downtown Milwaukee, but in areas directly adjacent to downtown – the Third and Fifth wards, the Menomonee Valley, the Park East corridor and other areas. Similar positive trends are currently evident in areas such as the Haymarket Square neighborhood (led by the catalytic planned Milwaukee Public Museum), Bronzeville/Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive (led by the catalytic ThriveOn Collaboration project), the Harbor District (led by the catalytic Komatsu and Michels projects) and the Bay View neighborhood.
All of this is crucial to having an economically viable city for the next 25 years, but we should build upon this successful planning process to implement successful economic development planning in all areas of the city.
For example, the Century City/30th Street Industrial Corridor has had some limited successes, but not nearly enough to help revitalize that area of Milwaukee. The planning process for that area should seek to identify several immediately attainable catalytic projects that can take advantage not only of city incentives, but also the relatively low cost of doing business in this area and the availability of a large employee base.
Similarly, on the northwest side of Milwaukee, the city has a tremendous opportunity to repurpose the long-vacant former Northridge Mall into a much-needed industrial/business park, which would, in turn, help to revitalize the commercial corridor in that area.
As the city’s Comprehensive Plan shows, every area of Milwaukee has strong potential for robust economic development if the proper planning steps are implemented. The past success of the city’s planning process portends future success in neighborhoods that have not yet fully partaken in the revitalization that has occurred downtown and in areas adjacent to downtown. A renewed focus on the potential for these areas of Milwaukee should be a priority of city government, as well as the Milwaukee business community, during the next 25 years.
This column is part of “25 big ideas for Milwaukee and southeastern Wisconsin’s future,” a feature included in the BizTimes Milwaukee 25th anniversary issue. To read other contributions, visit biztimes.com/bigideas