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Old July 5th, 2007, 08:32 PM   #1901
Markitect
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Eww... "Milwaukee International Trade Center (MITC) is a spectacular 185,000 sq. ft. building" Umm no. A hideous building at best. It's worse than the post office.
I guess that's because the building that would be retrofitted to create this so-called "International Trade Center" is really just an old 1970's-era Pabst distribution warehouse. Of course, in this promo they're not using "spectacular" in the architectural aesthetic sense; rather it's being used to emphasize the huge, open floor plates and tall interior spaces that could fit a ton of stuff.

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Old July 5th, 2007, 08:41 PM   #1902
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Summerfest grounds may get makeover
Improvements in surrounding areas inspire talk of change
By WHITNEY GOULD
[email protected]
Posted: July 4, 2007

Think of Summerfest as The Little Engine That Could: Defying the doubters, it made it up that steep hill and became what is billed as the world's largest music festival.

Summerfest planners envision a more cohesive approach to the festival grounds, which now consist of a mishmash of styles, including food stands made out of plywood. A key component would be to reduce asphalt by adding greenery.

But now, sleeker, shinier engines have roared onto the scene, in the form of cutting-edge architecture and urban design. So Summerfest faces a whole new set of physical and environmental challenges in middle age: tired buildings, a sprawl of asphalt and too little shade.

With a design-conscious public casting a newly critical eye on lakefront land uses, Summerfest officials are now looking more closely at ways to refresh the site by adding greenery and improving connections to the city.

When it started as a family festival on the lakefront almost 40 years ago, Summerfest was in a place nobody cared about. The 15-acre site south of E. Michigan St. was an abandoned air strip and Nike missile base, built on landfill that turned to mud when it rained. The stages were wooden platforms on concrete blocks.

To the north was the War Memorial, the 1957 Eero Saarinen-designed monument to veterans of World War II and the Korean War; the Milwaukee Art Center (later to become the Milwaukee Art Museum) occupied the two lower floors. There wasn't much else of note in the vicinity.

Fast-forward to 2001. Having outgrown the 1975 addition it tucked under the cantilevered Saarinen building, the art museum put itself - and Milwaukee - on the architectural tourist map with the opening of a spectacular, winged expansion designed by the Spanish-born Santiago Calatrava.

The all-white building helped make Calatrava an international superstar. It also raised the bar for design on the lakefront, forcing backers of a Calatrava wannabe proposed just to the south to go back to drawing board. The revised Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, which opened in 2006, was also all white but distinguished in its own right, winning praise for its restraint and simplicity. Like the art museum, it put parking underground.

The land around Summerfest was changing in other ways:

• The Historic Third Ward, an old factory and warehouse district just west of Summerfest, had transformed itself into a hot spot for condos, galleries, restaurants and offices. Its assessed value had soared from $40 million in 1996 to $531 million in 2006. The proximity to Summerfest has occasionally produced tensions, as noisy festival-goers spilled out into the gentrified neighborhood. But those problems have been largely resolved, Third Ward officials say.

• Lakeshore State Park opened this summer just offshore from the Summerfest grounds, effectively resolving a decades-long tug of war between Summerfest and city and state officials over public access to this stretch of lakefront.

Which brings us back to Summerfest itself, now drawing 1 million visitors a year to a site that has grown to 76 acres and is officially known as Henry W. Maier Festival Park, in honor of the mayor who started it all.
A hodgepodge of buildings

Summerfest was a key player in making the lakefront a charismatic place. Now that same magnetism, combined with growing environmental sensitivity, has drawn attention to Summerfest's own physical environment.

The sprawling grounds take in a hodgepodge of buildings, some of them remodeled leftovers from the old Nike days, food stands that are little more than shacks, other facilities that are newer and more inviting and one - the blue-skinned Marcus Amphitheater, at the south end - downright glitzy.

Snaking through it all are acres of asphalt, with even more pavement on the fringes for parking. Green space and shade trees are at a premium.

A far more inviting vision was laid out in "Millennium Momentum," a master plan for the site prepared in February 2000 by Milwaukee's Eppstein Uhen Architects and KenKay Associates of San Francisco, as Summerfest was negotiating a new lease with the Milwaukee Board of Harbor Commissioners.

The plan proposed major improvements to the festival grounds: better way-finding systems, new plazas, a well-delineated central spine, more consistent design, landmark features, view corridors to the lake, a leafy buffer between the city and the grounds, more greenery and less asphalt, spiffier buildings, expanded mass transit and better connections to the Third Ward.

It was a "wish list" that would cost an estimated $65 million.

"When we got into the nuts and bolts, we had to ask: How much could we afford?" says Robert Gosse, an architect who serves as Summerfest's facility director. From 2001 to 2003, projects worth some $18 million were built, ranging from remodeled offices for the ethnic festivals that bracket Summerfest and new stages and bathrooms to a crisp new mid-gate entrance, a fountain and plaza and several new buildings.

But Gosse admits that much remains to be done, especially now that the art museum and Discovery World have whetted the public's appetite for better design.

"Those are beautiful, pristine buildings," he says. "We are our own animal, with our own identity. But we have felt the pressure. We recognize that the neighborhood around us is changing."

Summerfest Director Don Smiley agrees.

"Generally speaking, it's in everyone's best interest - the city of Milwaukee, music fans, our sponsors - that we continue to look for ways to improve these grounds and keep them fresh and relevant," he says.

As Summerfest prepares to update its master plan, Gosse envisions more trees and grass, along with porous paving material, to reduce storm-water runoff and the heat given off by asphalt.

"We overpaved in the beginning, after people complained about the mud," Gosse admits.

Also being looked at: solar panels on some buildings; the possible addition of wind power; and an expanded push to recycle everything from bottles and cans to cooking oil.

Ann Beier, director of Milwaukee's Office of Environmental Sustainability, is encouraged by Summerfest's interest in greening its site. She says such efforts could pay off in lessening festival costs for electricity and storm-water management.

"And as a neighbor to the new state park, it would be nice to have a greener Summerfest grounds," she adds.

There are other lingering challenges:

Connections to the city: Festival officials have talked about ways to create a clear pathway along E. Chicago St. from the Third Ward through the festival grounds' mid-gate to the lake, as the Millennium Momentum plan recommended. But there's no consensus yet on precisely how to do that.

There's more agreement on the need to reconfigure the entrance from the north end, where E. Michigan St. leads to Discovery World and branches off into Harbor Drive and Summerfest to the south and the art museum to the north.

"This is Milwaukee's front door, but it's now a mishmash of roads, fences and scrub," notes Bob Greenstreet, Milwaukee's city planning director, who is working with Summerfest, Discovery World and the art museum on plans to create a more coherent, welcoming entrance to all three facilities.

Parking and transit: Festival-goers have relied for years on surface parking lots scattered around the east and south ends of downtown. But redevelopment has made that land more valuable. And some of those lots might not be there much longer.

A good example is the 1,200-space lot in front of the Italian Community Center on E. Chicago St., next to Summerfest's south end. Although the lot is a lucrative source of revenue for the ICC, the center has talked for several years about creating a modern-day Italian village on those 12 acres, complete with condos, apartments, shops, hotels and public plazas.

Dominic Frinzi, the center's president, says he has put together a "blue-ribbon committee" of architects, lawyers, developers and others to sift through redevelopment concepts.

"We're not ruling out anything," he says. Parking for ICC patrons would be part of any plan.

Summerfest, anticipating the eventual loss of that lot and others like it, is investigating the possibility of building its own parking structure, with offices and retail on the ground floor, according to Gosse. Expanded mass transit links to the festival grounds are also being discussed.

Even those agitating for better planning and design are bullish about the festival's role in defining the city.

"It has such a tremendous impact on Milwaukee," says Greenstreet, the city planner. "The image it creates, one of celebration, is a big part of its value. We'd be much the poorer without Summerfest."
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Old July 5th, 2007, 08:57 PM   #1903
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skyking,

I don't own a car and would therefore, use enhanced mass transit at least twice a day.

as far as its effect on our economy. I save somewhere between $5,000-6,000 per year by not owning a car. A majority of that money goes back to the local Milwaukee economy, whether it be me eating out more often, being able to live in a more expensive place and paying higher property taxes as a result or buying more expensive things from downtown/local businesses.

that's a hell of a lot better for milwaukee than me spending that money pumping gas or sending it to some car insurance company HQ'd in another state.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 10:55 PM   #1904
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I'd love to have the ability to hop on a train and go to the western suburbs to visit my family. A train that takes me to Chicago (cheaper than Amtrak) would be even better. For someone who's gone more than five years without a car, public transportation is rather important to me.
I agree with you, that it would be nice to be able to hop on a train or trolley to visit people or get to work or whatever -- especially if you are mass trasit-dependent as you are -- but how practical is it?

For example, let's say you lived in the western part of Franklin. Are you going to drive to Oak Creek to get on the train if you work in Racine or Kenosha - or even Milwaukee? Assuming you just really liked the idea of taking the train to work or visit someone, and you don't mind driving out of your way to get to the train stop, what happens when you get to one of those cities? Are you going to walk 2-3 miles to get to work, takes a bus, get a cab?

My point is that the connectors being talked about are so damn inefficient. I'm not saying there shouldn't be an alternative -- or updated -- form of mass transit, but further objective studies need to be done first. If some of the trolley plans become reality, a number of bus lines are shut down. How will this help people in the inner city if they have to walk further or get transportation to get to these lines? In many ways, people most dependent on mass transit to get around will be left behind. Hope you're not one of them.
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Old July 5th, 2007, 11:01 PM   #1905
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If some of the trolley plans become reality, a number of bus lines are shut down. How will this help people in the inner city if they have to walk further or get transportation to get to these lines? In many ways, people most dependent on mass transit to get around will be left behind. Hope you're not one of them.
Who said bus lines would be shut down? They won't be.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 12:47 AM   #1906
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I think the idea with the trolley line would be to eliminate some of the redundant bus coverage in the trolley-line area, and put the saved dollars into improving the rest of the bus system. Maybe more frequency or have some of the buslines run longer.

From my research, fixed rail transit operation/maintenance is much less expensive than a bus system. The initial cost is the big factor. But this trolley line proposed by Barrett is such a drop in the bucket. It could probably be financed without the average taxpayer paying a dime. THAT is why I don't get the opposition to it.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 01:34 AM   #1907
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Come on Milwaukee, hurry it up a little!

THURSDAY, July 5, 2007, 3:36 p.m.
By Tom Daykin
Cramer-Krasselt drops Park East plans

A major development planned for Milwaukee's Park East area has lost its anchor tenant.

Cramer-Krasselt, a marketing communications firm, is walking away from an office building and hotel proposed for a site north of W. Juneau Ave., overlooking the Milwaukee River.

The firm, which does advertising and public relations, opted to look for other locations because of delays on the Park East project, said Susanna Homan, a Cramer-Krasselt vice president. The firm is now at 733 N. Van Buren St., on downtown's east side. It needs to be in new space by September 2008, she said.

Developer Robert Ruvin said he would increase the size of the hotel, to 160 rooms, to keep the project viable.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 04:26 AM   #1908
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At least the whole project isn't scrapped because of this. All in all, Milwaukee is moving along....although it sure is getting a lot of bumps and holes along the road.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 05:00 AM   #1909
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At least the whole project isn't scrapped because of this. All in all, Milwaukee is moving along....although it sure is getting a lot of bumps and holes along the road.
You knew this was gonna happen. There are way too many projects floating around out there for all of them to become reality. Personally, I'm not at all disappointed by C-K's decision. That was to be a yawner development as it was drawn up. Maybe this will force the developer to become a bit more creative than a 10 measley stories.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 05:01 AM   #1910
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Who said bus lines would be shut down? They won't be.
Wanna bet?
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Old July 6th, 2007, 05:54 AM   #1911
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Wanna bet?
No one is talking about taking busses out of the inner city, besides Scott Walker. So, unless you talking about him, yes I will take that bet. Basically every other politician in southeastern wisconsin wants to improve and enhance transit.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 06:38 AM   #1912
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You knew this was gonna happen. There are way too many projects floating around out there for all of them to become reality. Personally, I'm not at all disappointed by C-K's decision. That was to be a yawner development as it was drawn up. Maybe this will force the developer to become a bit more creative than a 10 measley stories.
If I'm not mistaken, the article mentioned Ruvin actually DECREASED the stories on that building, from 10 to 9 or 8.

Which in that case I'd just call filler in the downtown landscape. I think the Milwaukee River needs to have some higher buildings than that.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 06:41 AM   #1913
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No one is talking about taking busses out of the inner city, besides Scott Walker. So, unless you talking about him, yes I will take that bet. Basically every other politician in southeastern wisconsin wants to improve and enhance transit.
MilwaukeeD - you meant every Democratic politician in SE Wisconsin.....

Currently I think every Republican politician is currently against transit options, with the usual reasoning that gets them elected in the first place.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 07:03 AM   #1914
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Wanna bet?
Bus lines would only be replaced if there were redundancies. So technically, yes, some bus line closures...but you can just take the faster rail instead.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 08:15 AM   #1915
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If I'm not mistaken, the article mentioned Ruvin actually DECREASED the stories on that building, from 10 to 9 or 8.
You're right brewcityfan. The follow-up article does mention a reduction of floors (stories). So the question remains. Where is Cramer-Krasselt going now? In any case, Milwaukee really needs to streamline their city and county approval process for potential developers, IMHO. But then again, Rivianna and the Breakwater sure seemed to be on the fast track. The Historic Third Ward seems to be able to proceed rather rapidly verses the Park East area. Just my perception from reading the Milwaukee Development Thread from the sidelines. I'm aware of the two large governmental bodies that require thier respective stamp of approval in regards to the Park East area. So that alone may extend the time needed for final approval. And I won't even get into the debated to death subject of TIFs.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 08:29 AM   #1916
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You're right brewcityfan.
UNBELIEVABLE!!!! I'm actually right?! It's a miracle.

Quote:
And I won't even get into the debated to death subject of TIFs.
That's probably a VERY GOOD idea!
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Old July 6th, 2007, 11:36 AM   #1917
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Wanna bet?
Busses and rail work together in every other city.. they are meant to compliment each other. Look at any other city

Quite honestly rail is a big factor in the status of a city .... the lack of Milwaukee's progress on rail so far is one of the factors that is making me consider a move to minneapolis. It is also a factor to a lot of my friends who came here for school and now are in the beginning stages of their careers.

As their hometowns move back towards rail (where milwaukee once was..) they are considering leaving this city. These aren't development freaks like us either.. they are just people who are looking at a city that so far is too f'ed up to get it's shit together and move towards the future

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Old July 6th, 2007, 04:11 PM   #1918
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MilwaukeeD - you meant every Democratic politician in SE Wisconsin.....

Currently I think every Republican politician is currently against transit options, with the usual reasoning that gets them elected in the first place.
No, Jeff Stone of Greendale has been one of the biggest supporters of transit because he realizes that it has spurred significant economic development in other cities and is vital to our future. Jeff is Republican.

Name a politician from SE Wisconsin, besides Walker, who is against transit? None of the important ones are.

This discussion should probably be moved to the transit thread though.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 04:20 PM   #1919
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You're right brewcityfan. The follow-up article does mention a reduction of floors (stories). So the question remains. Where is Cramer-Krasselt going now? In any case, Milwaukee really needs to streamline their city and county approval process for potential developers, IMHO. But then again, Rivianna and the Breakwater sure seemed to be on the fast track. The Historic Third Ward seems to be able to proceed rather rapidly verses the Park East area. Just my perception from reading the Milwaukee Development Thread from the sidelines. I'm aware of the two large governmental bodies that require thier respective stamp of approval in regards to the Park East area. So that alone may extend the time needed for final approval. And I won't even get into the debated to death subject of TIFs.
C-K is staying downtown, they just have decided not to go to Ruvin's development because it wouldn't be done by the time their current lease expired. I don't really see this as a big deal. They had an agressive timetable to begin with...moving in by September 2008? C-K will remain downtown...now if they were leaving or a company decided against relocating downtown because of this, that would be a big deal.

This project is on privately owned land. Like you said, other projects have gotten their approvals in a shorter time period than Ruvin. I don't think the City or County can be blamed for this one. That was always an odd location for an ad firm anyway...I would think that they would want to be closer to the other major office tenants.
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Old July 6th, 2007, 08:05 PM   #1920
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This project is on privately owned land. I don't think the City or County can be blamed for this one.
Since the property is privately held, you're right, the City or County are not to blame. I was mistaken in making my comment above. Thanks for enlightening me.

But with the very large geographical area that has proposals and developments all over the place. From the Fifth Ward north to the Park East area, and from the far east side by the lake (oops sorry, the bay), all the way out to west of the river, it's difficult for a non-resident like myself to get my puny little brain around it all. It's amazing considering the City of Milwaukee is still losing population.
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