Harbor View Plaza

Harbor View Plaza is the first waterfront public park in the Harbor District, located at the east end of Greenfield Avenue in front of the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences.  The Plaza opened in July 2019 with several hundred project funders, partners, community members, and other stakeholders celebrating in the Plaza on a warm and sunny summer day.  Check out photo below from the grand opening event.

all photos courtesy of Rockwell Automation, Inc.

Harbor District, Inc. constructed the winning design from a public 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 is located 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 allows children to explore water flow and cool off on hot days.  The canoe/kayak launch and dock allows visitors to get to the water’s edge and provides the only public canoe/kayak launch and docking south of the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee’s inner harbor.

Harbor View Plaza provides 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.

Harbor View Plaza was made possible thanks to the generous donations of Rockwell Automation, Inc., the City of Milwaukee, Brico Fund, and many other donors listed further down on this web page.

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.

Where is Harbor View Plaza?

The Harbor View Plaza is located at the east end of the Greenfield Avenue along the waterfront of the inner harbor.  See the map below for further detail on how to get to the Plaza.

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.

What was the process to create Harbor View Plaza?

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 was the Plaza funded?

Harbor View Plaza was made possible due to the generous donations of a number of organizations and individuals including those below.  The most significant contributions included a $600,000 donation from Rockwell Automation, Inc., $300,000 from the City of Milwaukee, and $260,000 from Brico Fund.

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”.

Who designed and built the Plaza?

Ayres Associates and Quorum Architects design Harbor View Plaza.  Altius Building Co. managed construction of the Plaza.  Gallas Metalworks designed, constructed, and installed the Fish & Ships Gates and the Donor Wall.  Containers Up designed, constructed, and installed the shipping container play structure.