Often when interviewed, Bucks president Peter Feigin talks about the speed at which the new Milwaukee Bucks arena is being built.
It has been a whirlwind, Feigin says.
“I would say we had a hard, concrete road map and plan 36 months ago, but we really didn’t,” Feigin said. “We’ve kind of formed this as opportunities came up. Everything from the acquisition of the Park East, to the ability to partner with Froedtert. We look at what makes sense, what is good for the market, and then make decisions.”
The $524 million arena will open in September 2018.
Milwaukee-based development firm Royal Capital Group LLC will break ground early next year on a 90-unit apartment complex adjacent to a parking structure, which recently opened.
“What we really have left to figure out is what happens on the two most eastern parcels in the Park East, which I still consider phase one,” Feigin said. “Phase two is really about the Bradley Center (site), which is a little over six acres.”
Demolition of the BMO Harris Bradley Center will be completed within a year of the new arena opening.
“Today we don’t really have perspective partners, leases or developers but that land is really vital,” Feigin said. “As far as urban planning, there is a big opportunity to see where the market is and think about our options.”
As far as the eastern most parcels, the Bucks are exploring many options including a corporate partner, hotel, residential mixed use or entertainment.
Bucks owner Wes Edens is the chairman of the board of Drive Shack Inc., an indoor golf entertainment complex that competes with Top Golf. Feigin said the Bucks have exploring the possibility of a Drive Shack location for what is known as blocks five and six, at West McKinley Avenue and North Old World Third Street.
“For us, until we have a concrete lease and tenant plan, we continue to explore every option,” Feigin said. “As crazy as it sounds, we really don’t have all the answers.”
The speed of the development has also been a bit of a hindrance. At least in the public eye.
Earlier this year, the Entertainment Block, which spans North Fourth Street between West Highland Avenue and West Juneau Avenue, and is one of the central elements of the Buck’s design plan for the new arena was delayed.
The block was originally scheduled to open when the arena does, in September 2018. It will now be open in early 2019.
“Everyone thinks, ‘When are they going to get naming rights or when are they going to get the Entertainment Block done?'” Feigin said. “Truth is, as quickly as we can. We have anxiety, but sometimes we sit back and think, 'OK, most stadiums or arenas go into development for a decade, not 36 months.' We are not going to do something that is not an A+ opportunity for us.”
Throughout 2018, pieces of the Entertainment Block will be constructed and by early 2019, a substantial part of the whole block will be complete, Feigin said.
[caption id="attachment_337950" align="alignright" width="351"] Several fire hydrants hand-painted by Milwaukee Water Works employee will be around the district.[/caption]
Inside the arena and around the entertainment district Feigin and his team are paying attention to detail. They want authenticity. And they want to be smart about the choices they are making, right down to the artwork.
A curator has been working with the Bucks to find more than 800 pieces of art including sculptures, paintings and photographs will be part of the new arena. Most of the artists are from Wisconsin and many are from Milwaukee.
The placement, sourcing, framing and lighting for the pieces will take six to nine months.
“It’s so much fun. And it is what makes the difference. These details,” Feigin said.
Outside, 10 to 12 working fire hydrants hand painted by an artist, Bucks fan and employee of Milwaukee Water Works will be on display.
“These buildings are going way too fast but everything has to be done so well,” Feigin said. “We’ve made a hell of a lot of mistakes, but it’s all good because we do it with good intentions."