West side neighborhoods reimagined by local architecture firms

Renderings unveiled from design charrette put on by Near West Side Partners

In April, six local architecture firms crowded into the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s school of Architecture & Urban Planning to brainstorm ideas for the future of Milwaukee’s near west side — an area made up of seven neighborhoods west of Interstate 43 and east of Highway 41.

The event, referred to as a “design charrette,” was organized by the nonprofit group Near West Side Partners to generate development ideas to entice developers. Six specific locations were targeted.

Near West Side Partners is a nonprofit led by representatives from Aurora Health Care, Harley-Davidson Motor Co., Marquette University, MillerCoors LLC and Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The area it serves includes the Avenues West, Cold Spring Park, Concordia, Martin Drive, Merrill Park, Miller Valley and Piggsville neighborhoods.

On Monday night, the renderings each firm drew up were unveiled. The pictures include public plazas, an amphitheater, an athletic complex and a public market. The renderings are merely concepts and there are no developers lined up to break ground on any of them. However, the drawings do offer some insight into what is possible at certain development sites in the area.

“The charrette process is one of the most important tools as we look at economic development and community revitalization in the Near West Side,” said Keith Stanley, executive director of NWSP, in a statement released Monday night. “Residents, property owners and many stakeholders had a platform to speak of land use, potential housing and retail development opportunities in this historic and dynamic community.”

Here’s what the architects came up with.

Site one

Located on four lots owned by the City of Milwaukee, site one encompasses 60,242 square feet on the northeast corner of North 27th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue. It’s across the street from the Bureau of Child Welfare, near the American Red Cross.

Uihlein Wilson Architects envisioned a six-story, mixed-use building with four floors of office space and a first-floor restaurant.

The building would be connected to a neighboring brick building constructed in 1923 that currently houses evidence storage for the Milwaukee Police Department, into which office tenants could eventually expand through a second phase of construction and renovation. Plans would also include a public plaza and a green roof.

Site two

Site two, reimagined by Quorom Architects, is roughly 91,000 square feet on the west side of North 27th Street, between West Kilbourn Avenue and West Wells Street, across from Penfield Children’s Center. Quorum imagined a three-story retail and office building constructed on the north end of the block, a community space capable of hosting a farmer’s market, a restaurant and renovated residential space.

Site three

Kitty corner to site one, site three includes 17 lots totaling more than 100,000 square feet. HGA Architects imagined the area with a mixed-use urban athletics and residential facility, a wellness center and an arts and entertainment hub.

Site four

Site four includes more than 81,000 square feet on the blocks between North 35th and North 37th streets, immediately south of West Vliet Street. Engberg Anderson Architects drew up plans for a permanent public market opening up to North 36th Street, attached to an apartment complex.

Site five

A complicated site at North 35th Street and West State Street, site five includes more than 56,000 square feet around an intersection leading into the Miller Valley. Miller Architectural Group imagined the site as a gateway to the valley, with improved infrastructure and streetscaping, a coffee shop, retail space and a public art element.

Site six

One block west of Marquette University High School, site six includes nearly 94,000 square feet between North 35th and North 36th streets, immediately south of West Wisconsin Avenue. American Design Architects drew up renderings for an athletic complex that includes a field house, an outdoor ice rink, an indoor soccer pitch, basketball courts and a CrossFit gym.

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Ben Stanley, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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