South Milwaukee sets focus on downtown redevelopment

The City of South Milwaukee is taking major steps toward the redevelopment of its downtown.

Mayor Erik Brooks announced the formation of a Downtown Advisory Committee of business, property owners and residents to provide guidance to the South Milwaukee City Council and Plan Commission on downtown redevelopment.

The members of the committee will include:

  • Jay Benkowski – Owner of Benkowski Properties, which owns and manages a number of downtown and area residential properties. He is based out of the downtown South Milwaukee Depot.
  • Brett Breisemeister – Owner of Breismeister Realty & Appraisal and member of the Plan Commission.
  • Kristin Drenzek – Owner of Drenzek Chiropractic.
  • Natalie Gajewski – Owner of The Revolution Hair Studio, Natalie is serving as one of the resident members of the committee.
  • Chris Haslam – South Milwaukee resident and Caterpillar employee with education in civil and structural engineering.
  • Timothy King – South Milwaukee resident with significant experience in real estate development and community revitalization as a developer, builder, operator, consultant, advisor and executive.
  • Nicole Maxey – Owner of MKE City Sippers.
  • Donn Powers – Owner of Donn Powers Jeweler.
  • Rachel Sorce – South Milwaukee resident and executive director of the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center.
  • The non-voting city council liaison on the commission will be Ald. Frank Van Dusen III.

“They are working on establishing a firm mission, vision and strategy for the committee and beginning to work on tackling the key issues facing our city center. It’s a formalized voice we’ve lacked in this debate for a long time,” Brooks said. ”We’re moving ahead on our comprehensive plan and downtown plan updates. At its meeting two weeks ago, the city council formally directed our city engineer to prepare and put out a request for proposals to planning firms. Proposals will be due by April 9, and we’re asking that the plans be substantially complete by the end of the year.”

The city also has hired Robin Grams as its new economic development coordinator. Grams has a master’s degree in public administration (emphasis on urban planning and management) from Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis, where he also worked as a planning intern for the City of Indianapolis.

“All of these efforts – the formation of the downtown committee, development of the plan and hiring of dedicated economic development support – are key building blocks we need for South Milwaukee’s future,” Brooks said.

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