South 27th Street stakeholders want better retail options

Greenfield and Milwaukee continue to work together to attract retail

The Chancery on S. 27th Street has been vacant since September 2015.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:02 pm

People living and working near the South 27th Street corridor would like to see a better retail selection along the street, including more restaurants, according to the results of a recent survey.

Right now, 45 percent of the more than 560 residents and business owners living and working in the corridor who responded to the survey, conducted by the city of Milwaukee, are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with the quality of retail in the area.

The Chancery on S. 27th Street has been vacant since September 2015.
The Chancery on S. 27th Street has been vacant since September 2015.

While the results aren’t positive, the survey is part of a plan by the city of Milwaukee, the city of Greenfield and the Historic Highway 41 Business Improvement District to develop the corridor into a retail destination for the south side.

Increased commercial development in Oak Creek, Franklin, West Allis and Bay View have left the entities mulling the future of South 27th Street, particularly the four-mile stretch between Oklahoma and College avenues.

Now that road construction on 27th Street is completed, attention has turned to restoring the retail health of the street.

The most common requests from survey respondents to additions to South 27th Street were for more restaurants, followed by a bakery, specialty grocery store and women’s apparel stores, according to the survey results.

Despite not being happy with the retail selections, 64 percent of respondents said they shop on 27th Street once a week or more than once a week. Thirty percent shop at Drexel Town Square in Oak Creek, 28 percent shop at Southridge Mall or on S. 76th Street in Greendale/Greenfield and 25 percent shop on Miller Park Way in Milwaukee.

A better selection of retailers, feeling safer and better overall aesthetics would make people frequent South 27th Street more often, according to the survey.

Rocky Marcoux, commissioner of the Milwaukee Department of City Development said the survey shows the public is engaged and willing to shop on S. 27th Street.
“Suburban folks are coming to Milwaukee to shop,” Marcoux said. “What their big focus is that we need more variety. If we can offer some of the things that are in Oak Creek or on Miller Park Way, they will definitely shop 27th Street, which is really encouraging to me.”

The planning team will continue to gather input from area residents, business owners, and other stakeholders and will be conducting a design “charrette” in conjunction with the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning Community Design Solutions in September to brainstorm ideas for the redevelopment of key sites along the corridor.

One of those sites is the former Chancery restaurant at 4624 S. 27th St., which closed in September after 33 years in business. Another is the 160-year-old Wildenberg Hotel, 3774 S. 27th Street. The city of Milwaukee acquired the historic property in August 2013, and has had a “for sale” sign on it since.

In addition to being unsatisfied with retail options, residents and business owners would also like to have better bicycle accommodations on South 27th Street and a better pedestrian experience with 43 percent and 49 percent, respectively, saying they are unsatisfied or very unsatisfied with current conditions.

Traffic congestion is also a significant problem in the corridor, according to survey results.

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