Lakefront Gateway Plaza fundraising campaign to launch in early 2017

Public engagement meeting on project to be held Monday

A team led by Graef was selected as the winner of a design competition for the Lakefront Gateway Plaza.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:13 pm

Milwaukee-based engineering firm GRAEF continues to move forward planning the Lakefront Gateway Plaza project and will begin its fundraising campaign for the $26 million project early next year.

A rendering of the Graef team’s Lakefront Gateway Plaza design.
A rendering of the Graef team’s Lakefront Gateway Plaza design.

City of Milwaukee staff and the GRAEF design team will hold the third public engagement meeting on the project at 5:30 on Monday at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center.

The Lakefront Gateway Plaza is planned for a 1.5-acre site between the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Summerfest grounds. The plaza will be bounded by Michigan Street, Lincoln Memorial Drive, Art Museum Drive and the future extension of Clybourn Boulevard.

Pat Kressin, leader of Graef’s design team for the Plaza, has already collected  feedback on how to better link the plaza with the community.

“People really like the idea of food trucks and more winter programming,” Kressin said.

GRAEF’s initial designs include an ice rink, but through public meetings, Kressin has heard from people wanting cross country skiing and snowshoeing, which are both ideas he thinks could work.

“We really want to talk to the public about how we can make this project a part of Milwaukee and connect it with the neighborhoods,” Kressin said, adding that there have been ideas floated about interactive kiosks or other social media tools to tie the lakefront in with the rest of the city.

GRAEF was selected in October 2015 by a group of downtown and lakefront “stakeholders” as the winning design for the project. Its design was one of 24 from around the country that submitted a response to the city and county, and one of the four finalists to make final presentations.

The Graef team is based in Milwaukee and includes PFS Studio of Vancouver, British Columbia, Rinka Chung Architecture of Milwaukee, Dan Euser Water Architecture of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and locally-based NEWaukee.

The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $26 million. A combination of private donations and government grants are expected to be necessary to pay for the project. The city has already set aside $3 million in tax incremental financing for the project.

Kressin plans on launching the fundraising phase of the project in early 2017 and is looking at some creative ideas to appeal to different donors.

“Our intent is that most of this project will be paid for through fundraising,” he said “I think Milwaukee is generous and the people who do donate are generous. We have a good story to tell. This is an important project that links downtown with our lakefront.”

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