Depending on which news sources you follow, Milwaukee is going through either a “renaissance” or a “reinvention.” Or maybe it’s a “reboot” or a “reimagining,” like that crappy Tim Burton version of Planet Of The Apes. However you want to define it, it’s safe to say that Milwaukee is currently building a lot of new and wonderful things.
• Okay, so we’re gonna talk about Milwaukee Tool again. The labyrinthian public financing deal to bring the Brookfield-based Milwaukee Tool to Downtown Milwaukee—and with it, up to 2,000 employees and a four-story addition to a largely unused five story building at 501 W. Michigan St.—got an unanimous thumbs-up from the city’s Redevelopment Authority. The city could give Milwaukee Tool up to $20 million for the move. [Urban Milwaukee]
• Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Area Service and Hospitality Workers Organization “raised concerns about the lack of a community benefits agreement on wages, benefits and working conditions for janitors and other employees of outside vendors at the future office.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explains:
That organization, known as MASH, says a 2019 resolution passed by the council, and signed by Mayor Tom Barrett, requires community benefits agreements as part of any downtown commercial development that includes service-sector jobs such as janitors, security guards and food service workers.
That resolution was passed in connection with MASH’s successful efforts to obtain a community benefits agreement with the Milwaukee Bucks for Fiserv Forum workers.
MASH research and policy analyst Jack Hanson puts a finer point on it: “Milwaukee Tool quite clearly could finance this project on its own.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• And finally: “Milwaukee Tool agrees to $15 wage in Milwaukee downtown office, labor groups seek more.” [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• The Italian Community Center is selling three undeveloped acres of its highly valuable land near the Summerfest grounds in the Third Ward. Why? “To help cover revenue losses caused by the pandemic.” The three acres are next to the land that the ICC sold to the Milwaukee Ballet in 2017 for its new headquarters. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Speaking of the Milwaukee Ballet, the organization’s former headquarters in Walker’s Point will still be (partially) used for dance. Daync Studio, which offers classes in “Salsa, Bachata, Hip Hop, Heels & Contemporary Fusion,” will lease a portion of the 14,614-square-foot building at 504 W. National Ave. There’s even a GoFundMe to raise funds for the move. [Urban Milwaukee]
• In other three-acre development news, Milwaukee County Parks and We Energies are planning the installation of the “county’s largest solar array on three acres of land at Oakwood Park Golf Course, at 3600 W. Oakwood Rd. in Franklin.” [Urban Milwaukee]
• I was driving home from visiting my parents yesterday (hooray for vaccines!) and I was on Highway 41 southbound and I usually exit around Brown Deer and Highway 100 but I kind of zoned out because I was singing Gin Blossoms songs with my kid (hooray for “Til I Hear It From You”!) so I ended up staying on 41 and I had to go past State Fair Park and American Family Field and eventually onto I-94 and my god that whole area is just an absolute nightmare of tangled roads, lanes, exits and ramps, more exits and ramps, more lanes, and god knows what else and can you believe something so ridiculous and convoluted and awful is considered normal and some people want to make it even bigger?
Anyway, a contentious plan to spend $1 billion in federal funds to expand a chunk of I-94 in that area from six lanes to eight lanes has been put on hold for at least a year. “This will allow us time to better assess the changes in traffic patterns resulting from the pandemic, and to receive more public input,” says Craig Thompson of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. “It will also help us make certain that our efforts to ensure racial equity with this project are comprehensive and aligned with federal priorities.” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• You know that random three-story industrial building at 212 E. Mineral St. in the city’s Harbor District? Well, it’s gonna be renovated and turned into…something. “We’re going to make it a 21st century building and do something that fits the neighborhood,” says new owner Mark Lathers. [Milwaukee Business Journal]
• Historic downtown building is gonna be turned into expensive apartments. Film at 11. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]
• And what did we learn this week? Well, they’re always building something. Isn’t that right, old song from my old band?
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