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Old May 12th, 2007, 03:13 AM   #1381
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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
Two>

Please. Enough's enough. TIFs were approved way before D'Amato waltzed in this subject. The Mandel projects and The Brewery are two strong examples of this. Staybridge and the FlatIron are two small projects. How in the world is a suburban strip mall going up on RSC's land? You read what Markitect posted - yeah some wasn't exactly appealing but there were plenty of other more upscale options that you refuse to consider as possible tenants and instead just degrade the whole damn thing because Target was hinted but not confirmed NONE were confirmed as a matter of fact. If something like a Target would be confirmed then absolutely label it whatever you damn please but for now quit the griping and wait and see what the hell he wants to do.
Why all the Target hate? They may build big boxes, but at least they have experience putting unique multi-level stores in urban settings. I could see if it were KMart, or Wally World.
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Last edited by Milwaukee, WY; May 12th, 2007 at 05:23 AM.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 03:28 AM   #1382
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Originally Posted by Milwaukee, WY View Post
Why all the Target hate? They may build big boxes, but at least they have experience putting unique multi-level stores in urban steeings. I could see if it were KMart, or Wally World.
Maybe they should put a Target @ The Grand. j/k. I might just get shot in the head for that one. I believe downtown needs upscale stores. Wally World? Hell no.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 03:38 AM   #1383
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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
TIFs were approved way before D'Amato waltzed in this subject. The Mandel projects and The Brewery are two strong examples of this.
Those two projects, both of which are in the Park East area, received TIF assistance because they met the extenuating circumstances that made them eligible to receive it. The RSC proposal does not really meet those eligibility requirements, which is why the Department of City Development has turned them down.

Furthermore, RSC's proposal does not fit with the overall vision laid out in the Park East master plan, which calls for RSC's blocks to be focused primarily around residential development and small-scale neighborhood-oriented retail and entertainment uses. Please be aware, this does not mean the things that RSC is proposing cannot be built anywhere at all in the Park East area, it just means the type of things they are proposing are not really supposed to be built on those particular blocks. For instance, they'd fit in perfectly a few blocks to the southwest, right along Water/Juneau/Knapp Streets...which is precisely where the Park East plan envisions such high-profile, high-activity uses to be, where it would be a natural extension of similar existing adjacent uses.

Incidentally, RSC's original development proposals for those two blocks--the ones which allowed them to win the right to develop the blocks in the first place--did respect the Park East master plan, and it was do-able without the need for City assistance. They dug themselves into a hole by changing their proposals into something completely different after they won the competition.

Quote:
You read what Markitect posted - yeah some wasn't exactly appealing but there were plenty of other more upscale options that you refuse to consider as possible tenants and instead just degrade the whole damn thing because Target was hinted but not confirmed NONE were confirmed as a matter of fact. If something like a Target would be confirmed then absolutely label it whatever you damn please but for now quit the griping and wait and see what the hell he wants to do.
That was a list of confirmed tenants that RSC is seeking; each of them has written a letter of intent to be tenants in the proposed development.

Last edited by Markitect; May 12th, 2007 at 03:44 AM.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 03:44 AM   #1384
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Originally Posted by Markitect View Post
Those two projects, both of which are in the Park East area, received TIF assistance because they met the extenuating circumstances that made them eligible to receive it. The RSC proposal does not really meet those eligibility requirements, which is why the Department of City Development has turned them down.
Quote:
Furthermore, RSC's proposal does not fit with the overall vision laid out in the Park East master plan, which calls for RSC's blocks to be focused primarily around residential development and small-scale neighborhood-oriented retail and entertainment uses. Please be aware, this does not mean the things that RSC is proposing cannot be built anywhere at all in the Park East area, it just means the type of things they are proposing are not really supposed to be built on those particular blocks. For instance, they'd fit in perfectly a few blocks to the southwest, right along Water/Juneau/Knapp Streets...which is precisely where the Park East plan envisions such high-profile, high-activity uses to be, where it would be a natural extension of similar existing adjacent uses.
So, please let me understand - the P.E. plan has that parcel as a smaller building? With small scale stores, etc? And if RSC would just drop that parcel and move it to the southwest, like you're mentioning, the DoD would have no problems with this?

Quote:
That was a list of confirmed tenants that RSC is seeking; each of them has written a letter of intent to be tenants in the proposed development.
OK, but RSC can't put them all in that proposal. Did RSC pick which ones will be in there officially?
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Old May 12th, 2007, 04:01 AM   #1385
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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
So, please let me understand - the P.E. plan has that parcel as a smaller building? With small scale stores, etc? And if RSC would just drop that parcel and move it to the southwest, like you're mentioning, the DoD would have no problems with this?
Doing that would eliminate the conflict with the master plan that exists with the current proposal. That's not to say DCD would have no problems with it, but it would eliminate one of the problems at the very least.

Quote:
OK, but RSC can't put them all in that proposal. Did RSC pick which ones will be in there officially?
Yes, RSC can put them all in the proposal; there are spaces reserved within the proposed buildings for all of them.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:03 AM   #1386
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A very good point, but first we have to know who's responsible. The whole county board is dysfunctional, I'm not a conservative but I support cutting the county board, their pay, and taking away responsiblities that are able to moved elsewhere. I don't exactly know how it got this way, but the only way I see to fix it is to throw out the baby with the bathwater.
Cha-ching! Yes, I agree--almost entirely. There are a few conscientious county supervisors, but most just don't get it. Yes, either reduce the number (like in half), or cut pay (like in half). These are about the most overpaid part-time jobs around. And we don't get squat from this charade...except the opportunity to pay for them with our taxes.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:06 AM   #1387
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brew>

"And the city did dig themselves into holes when they approved of various TIFs for projects and declined for others. Is favoritism going on here? Is there something behind the scenes that no one knows about? "

The ONLY one showing any favoritism is D'Amato. Leading the charge to put politics (and open pandoras box) ahead of the city and the same process that's been in place for years. The TIFs in question didn't met the guidlines that DCD has in fact made very clear, it was basically a suburban stip mall, will not be catalytic, would hurt existing business, doesn't have public improvements (like the north end), isn't a huge brownfield and on and on.

RIGHT NOW the Staybridge is going up at Juneau and Water with NO TIF. Gee somehow they worked their numbers out. RIGHT NOW the FlatIron is going up with NO TIF. hmmm

Simply because some developer says "Hey I got a project" does not mean it requires a TIF, it might, sometimes yea it's needed, but not every project and not everytime.

sky>
"Perhaps, when election time comes around, "informed" voters will do the right thing (yeah, right) when deciding who should be a County Supervisor. Perhaps Twoaday, the famous land speculator, can lead us to the Promised Land..." soon enough... soon enough
Does this mean you're throwing your hat into the ring? Is this your formal announcement for your candidacy? It's got a nice ring to it: County Supervisor Twoaday...
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:32 PM   #1388
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brew
"TIFs were approved way before D'Amato waltzed in this subject. The Mandel projects and The Brewery are two strong examples of this." Yes, but they have all followed a method a process (for 20 years or so) that D'Amato is basically trying to circumvent. At least Bauman went on record saying something to the affect of fine I'll let RSC move to phase 3 despite DCDs recommendation but unless something has changed he would not approve the RSC deal.

"Does this mean you're throwing your hat into the ring? Is this your formal announcement for your candidacy? It's got a nice ring to it: County Supervisor Twoaday..." you never know.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 06:54 PM   #1389
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Yes, RSC can put them all in the proposal; there are spaces reserved within the proposed buildings for all of them.
Wow, I didn't think that development was that large. To fit a Target and several other stores in the complex? Damn. Maybe I'm thinking of the wrong site. If I was an alderman right now, though, I'd definitely stand opposed to a Target in downtown Milwaukee, and ask RSC to find a more suitable department store for the new residents entering the area (through the new condo developments). As for things like Subway or other fast food joints - I don't think it's a big deal. At least workers and residents downtown have more places to get a quick bite and run. I think if the upscale restauraunts are there, Subway's small space could be allotted and not damper the development.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Twoaday View Post
brew
"TIFs were approved way before D'Amato waltzed in this subject. The Mandel projects and The Brewery are two strong examples of this." Yes, but they have all followed a method a process (for 20 years or so) that D'Amato is basically trying to circumvent. At least Bauman went on record saying something to the affect of fine I'll let RSC move to phase 3 despite DCDs recommendation but unless something has changed he would not approve the RSC deal.

"Does this mean you're throwing your hat into the ring? Is this your formal announcement for your candidacy? It's got a nice ring to it: County Supervisor Twoaday..." you never know.
I agree with Bauman that there probably needs to be tweaking - if there wasn't I'd definitely be questionable. But RSC has been trying to figure out what to do since the city is giving him and other developers mixed signals. And I don't know about your candidacy....that could be a big problem when it comes to many MANY other issues, other than downtown Milwaukee developments.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:00 PM   #1390
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Park East hotel developer welcomes competition


biztimes.com


The announcement that yet another developer wants to build a mixed-use development with a hotel in the Park East corridor is being welcomed by the developer planning two mixed-use developments with hotels across the street.

Recently the developer for The Moderne LLC announced plans to build a $73 million, 30-story building at the southwest corner of Old World Third Street and Juneau Avenue with a 120-room Element hotel, 14 floors of condos, a fitness center, a full service restaurant, a classic lounge and bar and a day spa.

Instead of seeing the development as a competitor, the Moderne project is being welcomed with open arms by Rob Ruvin, the owner of Mequon-based Ruvin Development Inc., which is partnering with Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital Corp. on a pair of developments northwest and northeast of the Old World Third Street and Juneau Avenue intersection.

“The Moderne is an interesting proposal,” Ruvin said. “It will compliment our development. We want to make sure we support development in the Park East. We don’t want to be on an island. It certainly seems like there is amazing potential in the Park East, and we want to tap that potential.”

Ruvin and Gatehouse plan to build a 10-story building at the northeast corner of the intersection with a 128-room Aloft hotel, 75,000 square feet of office space, 13 condominiums and 2,000 square feet of retail space. Cramer-Krasselt plans to move its Milwaukee office from 733 N. Van Buren St. to the building and will occupy about 50,000 square feet of the office space.

At the northwest corner of the intersection, Ruvin and Gatehouse plan to build a 180-room hotel operated by San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels, 70 condominiums, 30,000 square feet of retail space and 50,000 square feet of office space.

The three hotels could co-exist at the intersection, because each would serve a different segment of the market, Ruvin said.

Element is an extended stay hotel brand of White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. and would compete with hotels like the Residence Inn by Marriott, Ruvin said.

Aloft is also a brand of Starwood. Aloft is a select service hotel, which means it is basically a luxury hotel with less amenities, Ruvin said. It would compete with hotels like the Courtyard by Marriott, he said.

The hotel operated by Kimpton Hotels will be a full-service luxury hotel that would compete with the InterContinental Hotel, Hotel Metro and the Pfister Hotel, Ruvin said.

“Typically, these three (types of hotels) work well together,” Ruvin said.

The Cramer-Krasselt/Aloft building is expected to break ground between Aug. 15 and Sept. 1 and will not require any tax incremental financing (TIF) assistance from the city, Ruvin said.

“We have an aggressive schedule to get (Cramer-Krasselt) in before the end of ‘08,” he said.

But Ruvin and Gatehouse are seeking some city assistance for the development at the northwest corner of the intersection, which would include the redevelopment of the former Sydney Hih building.

“It is very hard to build a luxury (hotel) product in this market,” Ruvin said. “What (city assistance) we’re looking for is really for the parking component.”

That assistance may include some TIF, but Ruvin declined to say how much he is seeking. City officials have been reluctant to provide TIF for projects in the Park East corridor that would compete with other retailers and hotels already downtown.

However, Ruvin said his development for the Sydney Hih block deserves TIF consideration, in part because the property has sewer easements which make about one-fourth of the block un-developable.

“It’s a very difficult site,” he said.

Ruvin said his negotiations with city officials include the possibility that the city will provide some spaces in city-owned parking structures for the development. That could reduce the amount of TIF needed for the development, he said.

“We’re in negotiations trying to figure out some different scenarios,” he said.

Ruvin said he plans to break ground on the development for the Sydney Hih lot by the end of the year. In what he called the “unlikely event” that he and city officials do not reach an agreement on parking assistance, “we would probably look at a different development for the site.”
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:30 PM   #1391
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"But RSC has been trying to figure out what to do since the city is giving him and other developers mixed signals. " This is just clearly false. RSC is the one playing games not DCD, dude watch 25, read the proposals, check out legistar, learn ANYTHING about urbanism, look up some older TIFs, talk to an alderman, please the paper is just not a good source especially if it's your only source.

Until just the other day you had NO idea what the tenant list was at all. But you still supported the project. yea that makes sense.

"And I don't know about your candidacy....that could be a big problem when it comes to many MANY other issues, other than downtown Milwaukee developments." This coming from the guy suggesting a different train for those "lower-income" folks... whatever
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:35 PM   #1392
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I think most people are in support for a Target downtown, as they would provide many of the daily necessities. The question is where should that Target be and should it be subsidized.

I personally would be ok with a Target in the Park East, because I consider it neighborhood retail, not destination retail that people all around the Milwaukee area will come downtown for. I would prefer that the desination retail remain in the vicinity of Grand Avenue. However, I would also be ok with Target going near Grand Avenue.

With that said, I don't think a TIF should be used for a Target, unless it is part of a major catalytic project.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 07:43 PM   #1393
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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
But RSC has been trying to figure out what to do since the city is giving him and other developers mixed signals.
There is no mixed-signal, the answer has always been "no". They just can't accept that answer and instead of figuring out something that would work and follows the Park East plan, they just continue to complain. And then they say that the City is holding up the process, when it is really their failure to accept the "no TIF" answer that is holding it up. If they were planning on building their original proposal they could have already broken ground.

And for all of those who keep saying, "Where is the plan for the Park East? All of the people in charge are idiots!" The City put together a voluminous plan for the Park East that was approved in 2004 that laid out the vision for the corridor. There was tremendous vision in planning to tear down the freeway to begin with and then put in all of the infrastructure to make all of the parcels developable. The problem is that the County isn't following that plan and is approving land sales for projects that don't fit that original vision and require TIF. http://www.mkedcd.org/parkeast/PEplan.html
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Old May 12th, 2007, 08:10 PM   #1394
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Originally Posted by Twoaday View Post
"But RSC has been trying to figure out what to do since the city is giving him and other developers mixed signals. " This is just clearly false. RSC is the one playing games not DCD, dude watch 25, read the proposals, check out legistar, learn ANYTHING about urbanism, look up some older TIFs, talk to an alderman, please the paper is just not a good source especially if it's your only source.

Until just the other day you had NO idea what the tenant list was at all. But you still supported the project. yea that makes sense.

"And I don't know about your candidacy....that could be a big problem when it comes to many MANY other issues, other than downtown Milwaukee developments." This coming from the guy suggesting a different train for those "lower-income" folks... whatever
I've known the full tenant list since Markitect posted the list on this thread weeks ago. So quit the snooty attitude and get a grip. You won't even consider RSC's proposal anything of value, even with the upscale prospects in this. And funny enough, MilwaukeeD (seen below) shocked me by saying a Target downtown wouldn't be a bad idea.

And you keep the transit comments to the transit thread. Or are you just going to continue spewing out nonsense instead of taking a suggestion like a man.


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I think most people are in support for a Target downtown, as they would provide many of the daily necessities. The question is where should that Target be and should it be subsidized.

I personally would be ok with a Target in the Park East, because I consider it neighborhood retail, not destination retail that people all around the Milwaukee area will come downtown for. I would prefer that the desination retail remain in the vicinity of Grand Avenue. However, I would also be ok with Target going near Grand Avenue.

With that said, I don't think a TIF should be used for a Target, unless it is part of a major catalytic project.
All I'd like to know from that, MilwaukeeD, is what would you consider a "catalytic project"? That could be a good discussion. Also, would you consider Target @ The Grand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MilwaukeeD View Post
There is no mixed-signal, the answer has always been "no". They just can't accept that answer and instead of figuring out something that would work and follows the Park East plan, they just continue to complain. And then they say that the City is holding up the process, when it is really their failure to accept the "no TIF" answer that is holding it up. If they were planning on building their original proposal they could have already broken ground.

And for all of those who keep saying, "Where is the plan for the Park East? All of the people in charge are idiots!" The City put together a voluminous plan for the Park East that was approved in 2004 that laid out the vision for the corridor. There was tremendous vision in planning to tear down the freeway to begin with and then put in all of the infrastructure to make all of the parcels developable. The problem is that the County isn't following that plan and is approving land sales for projects that don't fit that original vision and require TIF. http://www.mkedcd.org/parkeast/PEplan.html
Unfortunately, there are mixed signals. The Journal Sentinel and The Business Journal both have dubbed what the city is doing to developers as "mixed signals". I'm glad the city used to have a vision - it's sad that the vision isn't holding up to what the city felt was great back in the day. Maybe it's time for a new revised vision?

As for the Moderne, I'm glad to see Ruvin (another developer who would like answers to the TIF situation) welcoming the competition. It's a lot better than Marcus whining.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 08:48 PM   #1395
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I've known the full tenant list since Markitect posted the list on this thread weeks ago. So quit the snooty attitude and get a grip. You won't even consider RSC's proposal anything of value, even with the upscale prospects in this. And funny enough, MilwaukeeD (seen below) shocked me by saying a Target downtown wouldn't be a bad idea.
Any people that I've talked to would like a Target downtown. Most are sick of driving around the metro for basic items and stores that many suburbs take for granted. I know I will shop more at target with them being nearby.

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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
Also, would you consider Target @ The Grand?

I doubt Target would move in there, they would build a new store.



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Originally Posted by brewcityfan View Post
Unfortunately, there are mixed signals. The Journal Sentinel and The Business Journal both have dubbed what the city is doing to developers as "mixed signals". I'm glad the city used to have a vision - it's sad that the vision isn't holding up to what the city felt was great back in the day. Maybe it's time for a new revised vision?
You do realize that the Journal Sentinel and Business Journal are businesses. Businesses that sell papers to make money. Did you ever think they exaggerate things at times to sell more papers?

I'm sure that putting out another planning document will not be seen as 'mixed signals' either.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 09:13 PM   #1396
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Any people that I've talked to would like a Target downtown. Most are sick of driving around the metro for basic items and stores that many suburbs take for granted. I know I will shop more at target with them being nearby.




I doubt Target would move in there, they would build a new store.
Well the support of Target in downtown is impressive. I never would have expected this. The Grand's renovations and additions though would possibly not be bad for a Target. Although Boston Store would surely object.





Quote:
You do realize that the Journal Sentinel and Business Journal are businesses. Businesses that sell papers to make money. Did you ever think they exaggerate things at times to sell more papers?

I'm sure that putting out another planning document will not be seen as 'mixed signals' either.
Well they also have a reputation to uphold. I don't think their "exaggerations" would hold up that well to its readers.....
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Old May 12th, 2007, 10:06 PM   #1397
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Well the support of Target in downtown is impressive. I never would have expected this. The Grand's renovations and additions though would possibly not be bad for a Target. Although Boston Store would surely object.
I don't get why that is surprising at all. To make downtown an even easier and convenient place to live, its residents should be able to make all of their purchases downtown. I would welcome almost any retailer to downtown. Target would fill a lot of the retail gaps. Now, we are most certainly talking about an urban Target, likey 2 stories with structured parking. No way would I support a standard suburban store.

They wouldn't actually fit IN the Grand Avenue, but there are some vacant lots in the vicinity of the Grand Avenue where a new building could work.

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Well they also have a reputation to uphold. I don't think their "exaggerations" would hold up that well to its readers.....
Then you aren't familiar the historical conflict between the Journal-Sentinel and the City of Milwaukee. They are always trying to prove that the City isn't doing the right thing. No one would buy the paper if the headline said "City Doing Everything Right in the Park East, Developers are Whiners". Most people, youself included it seems, want to believe that the City is screwing everything up (I think it goes back to that condescending stuff we talked about in that other thread, where you think we are incompetent and that you know how our City should be run better than we do).

What reason do you think the City has to screw things up? None! They have every reason to make good things happen. But do you really think RSC, a developer from Chicago, really cares about what is best for Milwaukee? Of course not, they are here for one reason, to make money. And that is fine, I want developers to see Milwaukee as a profitable place to do business, but that doesn't mean the local newspaper should give them more credibility than the City.

Look at the motives that the City has, look at the motives that RSC has and then look at the motives the newspaper has and it should all make sense.
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Old May 12th, 2007, 11:11 PM   #1398
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I don't get why that is surprising at all. To make downtown an even easier and convenient place to live, its residents should be able to make all of their purchases downtown. I would welcome almost any retailer to downtown. Target would fill a lot of the retail gaps. Now, we are most certainly talking about an urban Target, likey 2 stories with structured parking. No way would I support a standard suburban store.

They wouldn't actually fit IN the Grand Avenue, but there are some vacant lots in the vicinity of the Grand Avenue where a new building could work.
Alright, that's reasonable though. At least Target very near The Grand would keep people shopping at the newly renovated mall (if/when it gets started and finished). A standard suburban store wouldn't be something I'd promote just because downtown Milwaukee can't fit a parking lot....



Quote:
Then you aren't familiar the historical conflict between the Journal-Sentinel and the City of Milwaukee. They are always trying to prove that the City isn't doing the right thing. No one would buy the paper if the headline said "City Doing Everything Right in the Park East, Developers are Whiners". Most people, youself included it seems, want to believe that the City is screwing everything up (I think it goes back to that condescending stuff we talked about in that other thread, where you think we are incompetent and that you know how our City should be run better than we do).
Nowhere did I state city dwellers were "incompetent". I just stated that you refuse to cooperate and work out a solution without throwing up more roadblocks. I don't believe the city is screwing up on everything, but on some issues, like the Park East situation, it could be better. I think the city and its suburbs should work together on various projects, especially when suburbanites buy and move into the expensive condo towers now in downtown.

Quote:
What reason do you think the City has to screw things up? None! They have every reason to make good things happen. But do you really think RSC, a developer from Chicago, really cares about what is best for Milwaukee? Of course not, they are here for one reason, to make money. And that is fine, I want developers to see Milwaukee as a profitable place to do business, but that doesn't mean the local newspaper should give them more credibility than the City.

Look at the motives that the City has, look at the motives that RSC has and then look at the motives the newspaper has and it should all make sense.
I think RSC should have some interest, since Chicagoland residents have also been purchasing various condos downtown as well. Chicago's growth into Milwaukee is probably what's leading Chicago developers to continue the boom we're seeing. There needs to be a better job on all fronts to make this area a decent place to live, work, and play.

Also I thought I'd put this article in, considering many stand on the "suburban election of Scott Walker". Apparently Walker isn't returning any favors to us, either:

Quote:
Wanted: Better county services

Mayors explore options; county exec blames pension plan

By Steven Benter
Staff Writer

Posted: May 9, 2007

When people encounter knee-high grass in county parks within the city of Franklin, Mayor Tom Taylor finds himself fielding complaints, even though another governmental jurisdiction is responsible for the upkeep.

He said he hopes the sea of dandelions running down boulevard medians is not a harbinger of how public lawns will be maintained this summer by Milwaukee County.

"It becomes our problem," Taylor said.

Taylor and other elected leaders of South Side suburbs have concerns over what some have said are diminishing services from the county, citing grass cutting - or the lack thereof - as a particular annoyance.
"The parks are far from where they were," Taylor said.

South Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Zepecki also has heard complaints about high grass in county parks and medians. Oak Creek Mayor Richard Bolender said grass last summer along some medians was so high one couldn't see across the road.

Another gripe Bolender has is the condition of the boat landing at Bender Park, which he says is in dire need of dredging.

Current system 'dysfunctional'

Noting a $289 million unfunded liability, Taylor said The Greater Milwaukee Committee released a report in September 2006 saying Milwaukee County was in a "fiscal crisis." The report suggested a new governance structure be explored for providing many current county services, Taylor said.

The GMC is "a private sector civic organization whose mission is to contribute to the cultural and economic base of the Milwaukee Metropolitan area," according to its Web site.

Its report said Milwaukee County operates under a "dysfunctional governance system."

"We are working from a worse-case scenario where Milwaukee County is abolished, dismantled or no longer provides services such as parks, road maintenance, etcetera," Taylor said.

Mayors look at what-ifs

Taylor also cited the struggle involving the county providing funding for emergency medical services and paramedic programs. His concern is that if the county cuts or severely reduces services, municipalities would be forced to provide them by having to raise taxes or allow for quality-of-life programs to be left unfunded.

St. Francis Mayor Al Richards calls it a "zero-sum game," where a different government unit would have to pick up the cost of paying for a service if another doesn't.

Given Milwaukee County's fiscal condition, "we thought it wise to start a conversation on what-if scenarios," Taylor said. "We want to get ahead of it instead of managing in crisis."

County Executive Scott Walker said the county has faced serious financial challenges since the enactment of pension and sick leave enhancements in 2001.

Despite that, the county has balanced its budget the past five years, he said.

But Walker said it is appropriate to examine the proper role of county government in a county where there are no unincorporated areas.

Secession would be a chore

Any prospect of South Side municipalities seceding from the county, however, would be an involved process. Walker said since county government is legally an arm of state government, it would be very difficult to eliminate it without action from the state Legislature and governor.

"Instead, we are trying to find ways to make (county government) work better in the future," Walker said.

Walker said parks and medians are mowed on a schedule based on grass height.

"Cities or villages looking at making some of the current county parks their own community parks is worth exploring," Walker said, pointing out that Wauwatosa, West Allis and Greenfield already have some of their own parks.

New Cudahy Mayor Ryan McCue, an outgoing County Board supervisor, said there should be a dedicated funding source for parks, beyond fees. He said if a referendum were held asking county residents if they would support a quarter percent sales tax for parks, recreation and culture, the measure would pass.

"People love our parks system and I think they are willing to pay a $1 on a $400 purchase," he said.

Richards said one way to fund parks is through a park tax district, like Illinois.

Mandates difficult to fund

Zepecki said services the southern part of the county has come to expect have been chipped away. He said the erosion of services is due to the county's debt from its pension fund.

"Can we or can we not expect the county to provide services that we have become accustomed to? I doubt it," Zepecki said.

"What we're trying to do is become aware of options if the county can't function like we're used to."

Taylor said South Side municipalities have for many years had intergovernmental cooperation agreements in place for law enforcement, fire protection, health services and other programs and have investigated the possibility of joint dispatch.

While all counties face challenges because state government does not adequately fund state-mandated programs, Milwaukee County's challenge is even greater because of the pension and sick leave enhancements, Walker said.

What is the county's 2008 budget picture?

"While we still have serious challenges for the 2008 budget, it's considerably better than going into 2007," Walker said. "We got our health care cost increases down and we capped our pension benefits. We are still waiting to see what the state budget will look like this summer."

Bolender said the county needs to learn to "live within its means."
As you can see, the word "dysfunctional" concerning the county has even hit the homes of the people who elected this exec in office. 2008 seems to be an interesting election year.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #1399
milwaukee-københavn
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I don't understand the mentality that people here have formed in regards to government in the past 20 years or so. They expect the county to run in the black and provide all of the services that they want without actually expecting to have to fund it. The county government is not responsible for the declining population it serves. It is not responsible for the increases in external costs related to providing those services, nor is it responsible for the increase in the number of people requiring county assistance. Yes, the pension scandal and the unneseccary sums of money paid to county board members and managers do not help the situation but they are not the root problem. Get rid of all of them and Milwaukee Co will still be in financial trouble. People need to either get used to having a county that provides increasingly worse services and runs deeper into debt or they need to get ready to pay more. That's just the reality of life in a rust-belt metropolis and the sooner people here come to grips with that, the sooner the area will actually move forward.
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Old May 13th, 2007, 10:45 PM   #1400
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Here's an idea, Milwaukee and Waukeesha counties merge. Then Waukeesha gets water and Milwaukee gets $$$$$$. Its a terrible idea, but its still an idea.
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