Every Friday, Off The Record looks to other Milwaukee publications (and beyond) for bits of news we missed throughout the week.
• If you’ve heard it once you’ve heard it a thousand times: Downtown Milwaukee is on the verge of a “renaissance.” But for that renaissance to actually happen, a ridiculous number of interconnected pieces have to fall into place. Unfortunately—or fortunately, depending on how you feel about it—one of those pieces was knocked off the table yesterday when the Milwaukee County Board voted 9-8 against selling O’Donnell Park to Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.
The insurance giant had planned on purchasing the gorgeous, breathtaking testament to the beauty of our county parks system (just kidding, it’s that big empty “park” surrounding that big orange thing on the east end of Wisconsin Ave.) for $14 million, turning the parking structure beneath it into employee parking and promising to develop some of the park itself for public use. That didn’t sit well with many county supervisors, however, who felt, among other things, that the price was too low. Nor did it sit well with local advocacy group Preserve Our Parks, who felt that the public land should be off limits to a private buyer. “It’s a great day for Milwaukee’s cherished and nationally acclaimed parks system,” John Lunz, president of Preserve Our Parks said in a statement quoted by the Journal Sentinel, thus proving he’s never been to O’Donnell Park.
Anyway, following the vote, Northwestern Mutual immediately announced a mixed-use development west of its downtown campus, which makes the whole thing moot.
• One of the fallouts of the O’Donnell no-sale is that there will likely never be a giant NEWaukee-branded ferris wheel looming over downtown, Eye of Sauron-style. Yes, in a much-ballyhooed partnership with Northwestern Mutual, the “social architects” of NEWaukee crowd-sourced some ideas on what to do with O’Donnell Park should the insurance company successfully purchase it. And what did they come up with? Sigh: a ferris wheel, a coffee shop, a live music stage (in your face, nearby Summerfest!), and well, just keeping it a park. The Newaukee Business Journal has more on these incredible ideas that will sadly never come to fruition.
• Oh, yeah, the Milwaukee Common Council moved to delay a vote on the streetcar until January. According to Jeramey Jannene at Urban Milwaukee, the vote will likely be delayed again in January, and will finally come to a head at a February meeting.
• In what has to be the best news of the week, the Milwaukee Business Journal is reporting that a former American TV store in Pewaukee could be transformed into an indoor go-kart track. It’s not the glorious return of Fun World (R.I.P.), but we’ll take it.
• In what has to be the second best news of the week, Altos (or is it back to Group Of Altos now?) have announced a new album and released a new single. The Shepherd Express has more.
• The Shepherd also has the lineup for the 2015 Mitchell Park Domes “Music Under Glass” concert series, which begins January 8. It’s pretty much what you’d expect. (Neil Diamond tribute act!)
• The Avalon Theatre is (finally!) open, and it’s amazing. Fox 6 takes a tour of the restored Bay View gem.
• Are we still arguing about those swings underneath that bridge? Yup, we’re still arguing about those swings underneath that bridge.
• Everyone can relax, because OnMilwaukee’s Dave Begel has finally weighed in on the once-again-denied downtown strip club. A highlight:
“Some lady even got up and said she didn’t want it in the area because of ‘sex trafficking.’ She was really worried about trafficking taking place in the strip club and I think she said Milwaukee was one of the top cities in the country for sex trafficking. I have been unable to find any evidence to back that up.”
Here’s Begel in happier times. Have a great weekend, Milwaukee!