Public Official of the Year
Rocky Marcoux has the vision to see potential where others see failure, Milwaukee-area supporters say.
Whether it’s a dying library or an abandoned industrial site, Marcoux, commissioner for the Milwaukee Department of City Development, has the foresight to see a project’s promise, said Brenna Holly, executive director of the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corp., Milwaukee.
“He’s very future-thinking and easy to work with,” Holly said. “He’s assembled a great staff and knows how to make things happen.”
Marcoux was appointed commissioner in 2004 by Mayor Tom Barrett. Under Marcoux’s direction, projects such as the redevelopment of the Menomonee Valley, rehabilitation of the downtown Amtrak Station and the redevelopment of the Park East Corridor have moved forward with collaboration from other city stakeholders.
And even when there is little support for a project, Marcoux knows how to keep things moving. When others thought development would be slow to come at Century City on the former site of A.O. Smith and Tower Automotive, Holly said, Marcoux was a believer.
“He knows how to get people excited,” she said. “It’s been a team effort.”
Howard Snyder, executive director for the Northwest Side Community Development Corp., Milwaukee, said Marcoux is talented at keeping his focus on multiple areas of the city and the need for development and improvement.
While in the past, one particular focus such as downtown may have dominated, Snyder said, Marcoux has been a strong advocate for many neighborhoods.
On the city’s northwest side, Marcoux rallied support for the relocation of the Villard Avenue Library, which was in danger of closing. Though some critics of the library project thought there was no reason to keep it open — it was the least used in the system — Marcoux saw how the library could positively affect nearby retail development, Snyder said.
“He helped us keep the library open long enough to build a mixed-use development,” he said.
The new four-story Villard Square property includes room for the library on the first floor and apartments above marketed toward grandparents who are raising their grandchildren.
Without Marcoux’s support, the project likely wouldn’t have happened, Snyder said.
“He’s very personable, chatty and conversational,” Snyder said. “He’s been very accessible to me and to other nonprofits.”