A university terrace, a Harley-Davidson event space, and a timber tower were among 20 top projects Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced as winners of the 2023 Mayor’s Design Awards.
Johnson honored projects across the city at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning on May 24. The projects sprouted during “tremendous growth and activity,” and included new buildings, outdoor spaces, attractions and landscaping that added to the city, the mayor said in a statement.
“Milwaukee is witnessing tremendous growth and activity. New buildings, outdoor spaces, attractions, and landscaping are adding to the fabric of our neighborhoods. These awards celebrate the innovative efforts that make our city a great place to live, work, and have fun. I am excited to recognize these deserving projects that showcase the power of urban design to build stronger communities and move Milwaukee forward,” Johnson added.
Awardees fell into three categories: Places and Spaces, Vibrant Corridors and Urban Renaissance. Here are the recipients of the Mayor’s Design Awards.
Cohort 4 Green and Healthy Schools: For several years, a group of community organizations
have been working to transform asphalt school yards into sustainable community green spaces, city officials said. This work has taken place in neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee at five MPS school yards, including Benjamin Franklin School, Hayes Bilingual, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Neeskara, and Zablocki. This project was made possible by MPS, Reflo, MMSD, Fund for Lake Michigan, the city of Milwaukee, and the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning’s Community Design Solutions, city officials added.
Green Bay Playfield and Burnham Playfield: In the Williamsburg Heights neighborhood,
MKE REC worked to revitalize two community play spaces that now feature new basketball and
tennis courts, splash pads, upgraded playground equipment, an outdoor classroom, and a new
kickball and football field, city officials said.
Milwaukee School of Engineering’s University Terrace: As part of MSOE’s ongoing
investment in their downtown campus, this project transformed a surface parking lot into a
vibrant green space with landscaping, walking paths, and areas to relax, city officials said.
Packing House’s Restaurant Patio: The Packing House’s new brick patio features a 6-foot
long fireplace, a waterfall feature, a retractable roof, and heaters, city officials said. The new patio was built on a portion of an existing surface parking lot, demonstrating the power of utilizing these spaces to create new gathering places and outdoor spaces, city officials added.
Neighborhood Markers Project: The Near West Side Partners deployed federal funding to
create seven sculptures throughout seven Near West Side neighborhoods: Avenues West, Cold
Spring Park, Historic Concordia, Martin Drive, Merrill Park, Miller Valley, and Piggsville, city officials said. The sculptures, created by artists Brandon Minga and Andre Saint-Louis, detail the stories of Milwaukee’s indigenous history, culture, and architecture that remains in the neighborhood, city officials added.
Green Tech Station: The city of Milwaukee acquired this site in the 30th Street Industrial
Corridor and began environmental cleanup in 2016, city officials said. The Northwest Side Community Development Corp. and various community partners became involved to raise funds and reimagine the space into a green infrastructure destination in Milwaukee’s 30th Street Industrial Corridor. Today, Green Tech Station can capture over 100,000 gallons of stormwater every time it rains, and it features an outdoor classroom, green infrastructure amenities, and a unique mosaic created with 12,000 repurposed plastic bottle caps, city officials added.
Sherman Park Grocery Store: This new hub for fresh, nutritious foods opened last year after
Sherman Park residents voiced their desire for a community grocery store, city officials said. The second level of the property is a hydroponics farm, which supplies a portion of the grocery store’s produce. This new community asset is also an example of how the city of Milwaukee supports new small businesses with Fresh Food Access Funds and Commercial Revitalization Grant Funding, city officials added.
145-151 & 153 South 1st Street: LAS Investments are repurposing a row of properties in
Walker’s Point to have first-floor commercial space with housing above, city officials said. This row of renovated buildings is more than a century old. The buildings’ facades have also undergone vast improvements, city officials added.
Cream City Lofts: Milwaukee’s history enthusiasts will recognize this building as the former
John Nazro & Co. hardware warehouse built in the 1850s, city officials said. After a significant renovation and restoration effort led by Joseph Property Development, the building is now Cream City Lofts, a 40-unit apartment development featuring a rooftop deck and commercial space on the first floor. They also completed a façade restoration during the revitalization effort, city officials added.
Harley-Davidson’s The Garage: This new addition to the existing Harley-Davidson Museum
campus is a year-round event space with indoor and outdoor seating, as well as amazing views of
the nearby Menomonee River, city officials said.
Hue Vietnamese Restaurant: This longstanding Bay View restaurant owed by Cat Tran and Mark Nielsen recently reopened, expanding a small one-story café building into a mixed-use building that fills out the corner with a new lounge and patio, city officials said. The building also includes three apartments on the second floor. The city of Milwaukee supported Hue’s renovations with Commercial Revitalization Grant Funding, city officials added.
Three Leaf Development at Brady and Marshall: This mixed-used building, led by Three Leaf Development, was built on a city-owned vacant lot, city officials said. This development includes a first-floor commercial space and a second-floor apartment unit, helping create a more cohesive and continuous built environment along Brady Street, city officials added.
North Avenue Market: What was once a former bank building is now a community food and retail hall located on the border of Milwaukee and Wauwatosa in the Uptown Crossing neighborhood, city officials said. North Avenue Market offers a coffee shop, bar, food vendors, conference rooms, co-working office, pop-up space, a stage, speakeasy, drive-thru and much more. Funds from DCD’s Commercial Revitalization Grant Program played a key role in North Avenue Market’s building renovations and improvements, city officials added.
Schechem: This new community center in the Garden Homes neighborhood was part of a city land sale and provides a space for job skills training, professional development, and youth recreation, city officials said. Shechem, operated by Hope Street Ministry, offers the neighborhood a gym, classrooms, café, rooftop garden, and courtyard, city officials added.
Westlawn Renaissance IV and VI: The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee has been working for years to build up Westlawn Gardens to provide supportive housing and services for residents in need, city officials said. One of the latest additions is Westlawn Renaissance IV, which added two midrise buildings that include 60 housing units. Of those 60 units, 30 are reserved for youth aging out of foster care. Westlawn Renaissance VI added 138 units of affordable housing in a wide variety of housing styles and color themes, city officials added. The project also won a Top Projects award this year from The Daily Reporter.
The Wheatley: Royal Capital converted a former MPS school into a residential building, offering 42 affordable-rate apartment units in the renovated Phillis Wheatley School, as well as 40 apartments in the new building that was built along Meinecke Avenue, city officials said. The city of Milwaukee provided tax incremental financing to support this development, and Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority allocated low income tax credits. Both helped make this affordable housing development a reality that will serve residents and families for years to come, city officials added.
R1ver One & Tribute Apartments: This new development by Michels Corp. is generating new economic activity in the Harbor District and promoting public access on the Kinnickinnic River with this transformative investment, city officials said. R1ver One features office space, retail space, and a 125-room hotel. The Tribute Apartments include 95 apartment units, as well as a connected restaurant, The Bridgewater. Of note, R1ver One is home to the Harbor District’s first publicly-accessible Riverwalk extension, which is advancing the growth of this water-centric asset in this part of town, city officials added.
Rite-Hite Headquarters: Located in Reed Street Yards Business Park, Rite-Hite’s new headquarters includes two office buildings with a reflective glass edifice and a parking structure with a connected skywalk, city officials said. This development is an excellent addition to Reed Street Yards, which has witnessed a tremendous renaissance that local leaders have been advancing for many years, city officials added. The project also won a Top Projects award this year from The Daily Reporter.
Komatsu Harbor District Campus: Located at the eastern end of Greenfield Avenue overlooking Milwaukee’s inner harbor, the 59-acre complex includes a 430,000-square-foot factory and 176,000-square-foot office building, city officials said. The development features wind spires atop the parking garage and a solar array on the factory’s roof. The campus occupies a site that used to house Solvay Coke & Gas. A mix of city and state tax incentives helped make the Komatsu Mining Campus in the Harbor District a reality, which will eventually exceed 1,000 employees at the facility, city officials added. The project also won a Top Projects award this year from The Daily Reporter and earned its Best in Show award for the project of the year.
Ascent MKE: This 259-unit luxury mass-timber apartment building includes retail space, an elevated pool, and a sky-deck, city officials said. New Land Enterprises sourced sustainably-forested renewable mass timber to construct this development, which is currently the tallest mass timber structure in the world. Ascent MKE is helping position the city of Milwaukee as a national leader in innovative construction practices, city officials added. The project also won a Top Projects award this year from The Daily Reporter.