The Harbor District Business Improvement District (BID 51) Property Improvement Grant program provides reimbursable grants up to a maximum amount of $5,000.  Grant funds are intended for property or business owners intending to improve the physical appearance of their property and/or make water-centric improvements to their property.  For further details and to apply, please refer to the program guidelines and application below.

Harbor District BID 51 Property Improvement Grant Program Guidelines

Harbor District BID 51 Property Improvement Grant Program Application


In 2018, BID 51 worked with Chemistry in Place and American Design, Inc. to conduct a branding and identity planning process for the Harbor District.  The goal of the process was to describe the existing identity of the District in a document that could be used to inform future developments such as public art, streetscapes, public spaces, private development, and more.  The resulting brand – GRITTY. GREEN. REAL. – is described further in the document below.

Harbor District Branding and Identity Deployment Guidelines & Plan


Eric Leaf

BID 51 Board chair
Assistant Dean for Advancement
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences

Eric is responsible for partnerships, external relations, outreach, and resource acquisition in support of the research and academic missions of the School of Freshwater Sciences. As assistant dean, he supports students and faculty-led initiatives while working to build a strong foundation for growth in the largest water-focused academic research institution on the Great Lakes. He serves on the dean’s cabinet, was a co-author of the School’s strategic plan, and was the lead officer securing two of the largest grants since the School was formed from the Great Lakes WATER Institute in 2009.

Eric has enjoyed a 16-year career working in higher education development. He began his work at Marquette University in 2000 and, as part of the Magis Campaign helped raise funds contributing to the construction of the John P. Raynor, S.J. Library, the Al McGuire Center, and the Marquette Dental School. Later he joined UW-Whitewater’s College of Business & Economics, working with alumni, business leaders, and other partners with a primary focus of securing private resources supplementing state support to construct the business school’s Timothy J. Hyland Hall. At both institutions, and at UW-Milwaukee, Eric works to secure scholarship support, endowment, and other resources to grow academic programs and research initiatives. Previous to working in development Eric was a production coordinator and public relations writer at the American Society for Quality.

Eric earned his undergraduate degree in philosophy and history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has performed master’s work in theology at Marquette University. He lives near BID 51 and the Harbor District in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.

Colleen Cheney-Trawinski

BID 51 Board Treasurer
Executive Director
St. Josaphat Basilica Foundation

Colleen Cheney-Trawiński serves as full-time Executive Director of the Basilica Foundation. She has a strong background in all aspects of fundraising and relationship building. She is honored to be part of the efforts to preserve our magnificent Basilica. She understands that the Basilica is a living, vibrant witness to the Catholic faith and the tenacity and strength of the Polish immigrants who took on its monumental construction. 

Beth Handle

Founder and Owner
Milwaukee Kayak Company

Beth Handle founded Milwaukee Kayak Company (MKC) in 2013 after many years of adventures on our rivers. Their mission is to provide a healthy, fun, safe and unique outdoor paddling experience for residents of Milwaukee, surrounding communities and tourists – while promoting Milwaukee, a healthy lifestyle and recreation on our rivers. Beth, who grew up on the north side of Milwaukee, is active in the community, also serving on the Board of Directors for Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Milwaukee Riverwalk. MKC supports organizations doing good things for the city of Milwaukee and rivers including Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Menomonee Valley Partners, Milwaukee County Historical Society, Harbor District Inc., River Revitalization Foundation, Milwaukee Water Commons, Victory Garden, Urban Ecology Center, Wisconsin Hero Outdoors and more.

Kevin hardman

director of business development
the kubala washatko architects

Kevin cares deeply about creating vibrant, human-centered and broadly sustainable places. Leveraging year’s of urban-development experience, Kevin works with municipal officials, real-estate developers, advocates and a diverse citizenry to build cities, towns and villages that are more diverse, equitable, and competitive.

A lifelong urban advocate, Kevin spent years in the Chicago development community transforming, among other places, the Cabrini-Green housing development in to sustainable, mixed-income, mixed-use urban centers. Kevin led the team that launched and significantly grew Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s bike share system. He also led the Wisconsin Bike Fed, which the team grew in to the largest statewide bicycle organization in the country.


Transfer Pizzeria
Co-owner of Transfer Pizzeria Cafe, 101 W Mitchell Street, since 2008. Longtime resident of Milwaukee, homeowner in Bay View and is a residential property owner in 53204 zip code. Prior to business ownership, professional experience included Marketing Manager/Sr. Marketing Administrator (6 years) at American Society for Quality (ASQ) in downtown Milwaukee. Bachelor’s degrees in Marketing and Operations Management from University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Past appointed member of Business Improvement District Board No. 41 (Downer Avenue) from 2011 to 2014.


CLO and SVP of M&A & Real Estate
Michels Corporation

Michels has a Milwaukee presence at 218 Becher Street. Michels is a diversified utility and specialty construction company that conducts business throughout the United States and internationally. David is responsible for all aspects of the company’s legal representation. In his capacity as Vice President of Business Administration, David’s additional responsibilities include: strategic acquisitions and partnerships; risk management; labor relations; real estate; DOT compliance; and safety and environmental stewardship.

David is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Marquette University Law School. He has a M aster ‘ s Degree in International Trade in Business Law from the American University-Washington College of Law. As a child, David learned to sail on Milwaukee’s inner harbor. As a result, he appreciates the importance of this unique resource to the quality of life in our community. David and his wife, Diane, reside in Mequon and have three children.

josh weber

Josh Weber serves as accounting manager for V. Marchese and Cut Fresh, Harbor District employers of about 350 people. In addition to accounting responsibilities, Josh oversees financial interactions with customers and also serves as the legal liaison between V. Marchese and its attorneys. In addition to ensuring that the BID board addresses issues identified in its operating plan, and taking a hands-on approach to the BID financial management and use of funds, Josh would like to see an emphasis on “Safer, Greener, Cleaner and Better Environment,” a concept that his companies are emphasizing. Josh has a BA in History, Political Science and Legal Studies from Concordia University, and is in the process of completing a Masters Degree in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting at Concordia.  

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