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WisDOT property could solve parking problem

Sean Ryan
sean.ryan@dailyreporter.com

A lack of parking could muffle the expected development boom beneath Milwaukee’s Marquette Interchange.

The area along St. Paul Avenue and Clybourn Street under the interchange is ripe for growth because of the nearby Milwaukee Intermodal Station and redevelopment of the U.S. Postal Service building. But companies hesitate to move into area buildings when there are no guarantees people will have places to park.

Ronald San Felippo, partner in Milwaukee-based Three Bridges Development, said efforts to lease commercial space in the Warehouse Lofts building at 413 N. Second St. were put on hold because of the parking problem.

“That whole area is in the next cycle of redevelopment,” he said.

The lots under the Marquette Interchange were used for parking until the structure was rebuilt. Those same lots still are empty, but Wisconsin Department of Transportation officials plan to issue a request for development proposals for nine properties in the area. The vacant lots are mostly along West Clybourn Street and West St. Paul Avenue between 11th and Water streets.

“Does it all have to be parking?” San Felippo said. “Probably not, but I think it would be helpful if a substantial amount of it was.”

Two of the WisDOT sites included in the RFP are within two blocks of the Pritzlaff building at 305 N. Plankinton Ave., a building that is owned by Franklin-based Sunset Investors-Plankinton LLC. Potential building tenants want parking within four or five blocks from a building, said Kendall Breunig, owner of Sunset Investors. There are still available parking spots in the radius, but there will be a shortage, he said.

“It’s a good use for the space,” he said. “You can’t use it for a whole lot else.”

WisDOT’s decision to put out development requests follows public hearings this year during which the agency collected ideas of how the property can be developed. The ideas included developing public parking with a coffee shop, public parking with a convenience store and development of a storage building. The site across the street from the Milwaukee Intermodal Station cannot be used as a parking lot, according to the WisDOT proposal request.

The WisDOT RFP for the land under the highway could offer the best chance to get more parking spots in the area, San Felippo said.

The land, unlike other properties, has limited use because of the interchange, and lessees must comply with heightened national security rules and the requirement to give WisDOT full access to the underside of the highway bridges, he said.

Milwaukee County, which would receive half of any lease payments, must approve the lease agreements. The Federal Highway Administration, which would share the other half of the lease payments, must also sign off.

The Milwaukee County Board Committee on Transportation, Public Works and Transit on Wednesday will consider WisDOT’s plan to put out a request for development proposals.

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