For decades, the industrial waterfront of the Harbor District has been unwelcoming. Condemned buildings and contaminated sites attracted illicit activity, while low rail bridges and barbed wire were unwelcoming to businesses, customers, and visitors.
To begin the process of revitalization, we knew we needed to reintroduce people to this part of their city. Now, hundreds of people have joined us on bus, boat, kayak, bike, and walking tours. Others enjoy community events like our annual Harbor Fest. Students from nearby elementary schools count dragonflies along the bike trail with us, and bring their parents back to check out Harbor View Plaza.
The Harbor District Water and Land Use Plan (WaLUP) was developed through a two-year public planning process to address challenges and reimagine Milwaukee’s working waterfront for the 21st century.
New parks and public spaces were identified as a high priority during the WaLUP process. The plan calls for the creation of a 3 to 4-mile HarborWalk, along with several larger public spaces nodes and Harbor View Plaza which will greatly improve nearby residents’ access to public space and the waterfront.
The past two centuries of industrial activity have left contamination in the land and waterways of the Harbor District. As we look ahead to the next century, environmental clean-up, habitat restorations, and water quality improvements are key to a successful revitalization process.
The Harbor District vision includes striking a better balance between dense, urban development and green spaces that support birds, pollinators, native plants, and other critters on land, and connected aquatic habitat that supports the many fish species who move through these waters.
Green infrastructure and innovative stormwater management practices will help achieve water quality goals across the Harbor District while also helping to achieve City-wide and watershed goals.
As Milwaukee’s working waterfront, it is important that the Harbor District continues to be a center of employment and innovation. HDI and BID 51 work together to ensure that new developments and businesses have the support and resources to grow and flourish while providing economic opportunity for Milwaukee residents.
Since the adoption of the WaLUP by the City of Milwaukee Common Council in early 2018, several new developments have been announced. The WaLUP recommended a mix of uses across the Districts including industrial, commercial office, retail, residential, and public space. New and proposed developments include employment opportunities, shopping, services, new housing (market-rate and affordable), and a network of new public spaces.