UWM School of Freshwater Sciences plans could boost Walker’s Point

Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood could receive a considerable boost when the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee develops two locations for its new School of Freshwater Sciences on the city’s near south side.
UWM recently announced that it will build a $50 million addition to its existing Great Lakes Water Institute at 600 E. Greenfield Ave. with part of the $240 million bonds UWM received from the state last year. The 85,000-square-foot, four-story addition will provide advanced laboratories and classroom and collaboration space.
In addition, the UWM Real Estate Foundation and the Milwaukee Water Council will seek funding to develop a site at the Reed Street Yards near South Third Street and Pittsburgh Avenue, where the school plans to construct a public-private facility that will house academic applied research labs, conference space for businesses, a business accelerator and the offices of the Milwaukee Water Council.
Alderman Jim Witkowiak, who represents the Walker’s Point neighborhood, said, “For the Walker’s Point area, (the UWM plans are) absolutely huge. Even though they are split into two different sites, I’m pleased it is in our neighborhood. I think it makes everyone happy. This also will open up development of the Reed Street Yards. We were looking for a catalytic project to go into there and this will provide that.”
City officials want to attract water technology businesses to the Reed Street Yards area, which is just south of the Harley-Davidson Museum and is near downtown Milwaukee.
The expansion of the Great Lakes Water Institute at 600 E. Greenfield Ave. could help attract development to vacant parcels at South First Street and Greenfield Avenue, which is next to Rockwell Automation Inc.’s corporate headquarters, Witkowiak said.
“I think that corner will become a lot more viable now that this is happening,” Witkowiak said. “Hopefully the land around that area will become more attractive for development.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city plans to transform Greenfield Avenue from the harbor to South First Street into a “beautiful boulevard” by rebuilding a railroad underpass and building a “visual barrier” to block the view of a coal pile located south of the site.
“Strong academic institutions are valuable ingredients in our city’s job creation efforts,” Barrett said. “With Milwaukee’s position as a center of water technology, the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences plays a particularly important role in growing that segment of our economy. I am very happy to see the school’s bold expansion plans advancing.”

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