If you’ve ever thought of moving your business or family to beautiful Historic Downtown Waukesha and Riverwalk, now is the perfect time. If you haven’t been to downtown Waukesha lately, you probably don’t know that all of our downtown one-way streets have been changed to two-way streets. Our new way-finding signs not only show where customers and visitors can park, but the signs from all directions lead to our historic downtown, less than two miles from Interstate 94. Waukesha is only 15 miles to Milwaukee, 50 miles to Madison, and 90 minutes to Chicago.
Waukesha has grown to become the seventh-largest city in Wisconsin, with almost 70,000 people. Waukesha is an award-winning city with a new national reputation that it deserves. Money Magazine has named Waukesha the 36th-best small city to live in in the United States (and the No. 1 small city in the state of Wisconsin). That’s directly related to the high quality of life here, with an extremely safe city, thanks to our first-class police and fire departments.
We also have an award-winning library as part of our historic downtown, which helped us receive a $10,000 award from the National Endowment for the Arts to participate in its Big Read program. We’ve given out over 2000 free copies of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and have over 25 fun and exciting activities happening throughout our downtown. The combination of our regularly scheduled Art Crawls and Friday Night Live stage areas with free live music show off our vibrant and creative arts community that has helped bring record crowds to shop, eat, and live in our historic downtown.
Our award-winning Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department worked with our business community and volunteers for 14 years to create our fantastic Riverwalk, which starts at Frame Park (famous for the annual Fiesta Waukesha and its formal gardens) and travels throughout our historic downtown all the way to the Fox River Sanctuary (where the Glacial Drumlin Trail can take you all the way to Madison).
There are a number of reasons why now is the time to live in Historic Downtown Waukesha. The Landing, conveniently located across from the Waukesha County Historical Society and Museum, has condominiums that are selling fast. The third phase of The River’s Edge apartments takes full advantage of the Riverwalk. The Ogden Company is currently building our first riverfront condominiums which show our downtown’s renaissance is assured to continue. Four of our most dedicated downtown residents (one couple converted an old car dealership into a beautiful modern home, while another couple converted an old blacksmith shop into the home of their dreams) were featured in a special episode on HGTV. The Brook Street condominiums, with businesses on the ground floor and loft residences above, show that cutting edge architecture and design are part of the new Waukesha.
The number one reason now is the time to bring your business to downtown Waukesha is the combination of our authentic historic buildings dating back to the 19th century alongside our beautiful riverwalk. We are one of the best examples of the new urbanism with a very walkable historic downtown and riverwalk with unique one-of-a-kind stores, restaurants, coffee shops and bars.
Currently, the Clarke Building is being transformed into a luxury boutique, hotel and restaurant. Clarke Hotel and the upscale Black Trumpet restaurant, which was based on Andy Ruggeri’s track record at the Hotel Metro, Delafield Hotel and Ruggeri’s restaurant, will bring record numbers of new visitors and customers to our historic downtown. It’s another example of a public/private partnership that has made Waukesha a role model leader in the proper use of tax incremental finance districts.
Waukesha is fortunate to have an active and committed Business Improvement District Board and Downtown Merchants Association. As mayor, I choose to go to their meetings and do all I can to promote our Historic Downtown Waukesha and Riverwalk. I believe the downtown is the heart and soul of a city, and if you’re looking to move yourself or your business to a great city with a truly historic downtown and riverwalk, you can’t do better than the new Waukesha.