Harbor View Plaza

Harbor District, Inc. is constructing the winning design from a Design Competition for a new public plaza at the east end of Greenfield Avenue. The concept was created by Ayres Associates and Quorum Architects and will be constructed along the waterfront next to the UWM School of Freshwater  Sciences.

The plaza design includes a play structure for children, a water play area and water feature, and a canoe/kayak launch and dock.  The play structure is designed to look like the shipping containers synonymous with ports around the world.  The water play area will allow children to explore water flow and cool off on hot days.  The canoe/kayak launch and dock will allow visitors to get to the water’s edge and provide the only public canoe/kayak launch and docking south of the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee’s inner harbor.

When constructed, the Greenfield Avenue Public Plaza will provide a space for families and children to recreate outdoors and experience the waterfront, a place for neighborhood workers to relax at lunch, and a destination for canoers and kayakers. The plaza is the first major investment in what will eventually be a continuous network of Riverwalk and waterfront parks spanning much of the western shore of the Harbor District.  For details on the larger vision for the Harbor District, see the Water and Land Use Plan.

Construction of the plaza is expected to begin in fall 2018. We are still seeking funds to complete construction of the project. If you are interested in supporting the creation of the Harbor View Plaza, please click the button below to donate or contact Dan Adams at dan@harbordistrict.org.

A rendering by UWM Community Design Solutions of the Harbor View Plaza.

The images above from other parks highlight the main features of the new plaza. Clockwise from top left: water play features and pump, water play, a modular cube play structure, and a canoe/kayak launch and dock.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are questions we have received regarding the Harbor View Plaza.  If you have a question that isn’t addressed on this page, please contact Dan Adams at dan@harbordistrict.org.

Why do we need a new park?

Early in the Harbor District Water and Land Use Plan process, it was clear that new public space and access to the water were major points of interest and need for the residents that live in the area. In our one-on-one interviews, focus groups, public meetings, and surveys people consistently ranked “space for people to recreate and enjoy the outdoors” as the highest priority outcome for future redevelopment of the Harbor District. To further illuminate the issue, HDI compiled data that supported the community’s call for public space and access to the water.



These findings combined with public input led HDI to develop the Take Me to the River initiative to develop a new public park on the waterfront in the Harbor District. This park is the first step in a much larger effort to create public park space and water access for Milwaukee’s near south side. Future efforts, outlined in the Water and Land Use Plan, include a four-and-a-half mile extension of the downtown Riverwalk, a seven to ten-acre waterfront park, and a network of canoe/kayak launches.

Where is the project site?

The Harbor View Plaza will be located at the east end of the Greenfield Avenue along the waterfront of the inner harbor.  See the map below with a red star on the project site.

What have we done for the project so far?

HDI launched the Take Me to the River initiative in 2016 to create new community connections – both programmatic and physical – to the waterfront, and to focus on creating an “early win” for the area.  The project team quickly zeroed in on creating a public plaza at the end of Greenfield Avenue to provide access to the water and new public space for people to recreate and relax. To inform the creation of this new public space HDI conducted a variety of events and activities described below. The events were aimed at gathering input on what the community would want in a public space, familiarizing the community with the Harbor District, and bringing people to the waterfront.

How is this new park being funded?

Fundraising for the new park is ongoing with a project budget of $1.5 million.  On April 4th, 2018 we were excited to announce Rockwell Automation donated $600,000 and the Brico Fund donated $250,000 to the project.  Additional funders include the Bloomberg Award for Partners for Places-a project of the Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities; Prairie Springs – the Paul Fleckenstein Trust; the Greater Milwaukee Foundation; Fund for Lake Michigan, Herb Kohl Philanthropies; Brookby Foundation; and Zilber Family Foundation.

We are more than two-thirds of the way towards the total project budget, but need additional support to make this much needed public green space a reality.  Please consider supporting this project by clicking here and making a tax-deductible donation.

Where did the name Harbor View Plaza come from?

Rockwell Automation, located only a few blocks from the project site, was announced as the naming sponsor for the new park.  As the naming sponsor, they have collectively decided on the aptly name, “Harbor View Plaza”.

When will the park be constructed?

We anticipate breaking ground on construction in fall 2018.  This timeline is dependent on completing fundraising.  To help us meet our goal for construction, please consider donating to the Harbor View Plaza project by clicking here.

The Greenfield Avenue Public Plaza site plan created by Ayres Associates and Quorum Architects.