By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 09, 2024 at 10:48 AM

Milwaukee says it wants – and it definitely needs – big ideas. And few are proposing bigger and more exciting ideas than architectural designer John Everitt.

Last year, Everitt – who graduated from UWM's School of Architecture and Urban Planning in 2022 and has worked for Bray Architects – shared a plan for the old railroad swing bridge that sits idle in the Milwaukee River.


Now, with the support of Greg Walthers, he has produced an impressive catalog of ideas for how the land that sits beneath and adjacent to the current I-794 freeway spur Downtown could be reimagined.

This, of course, as the state Department of Transportation, the city's Department of City Development and others discuss options for the spur, which range from doing nothing to replacing it to tearing it down.

One group supporting the removal of the freeway shared these renderings.

But, Everitt's catalog runs about 30 pages and is filled with data and renderings and, most importantly, the spirit of thinking big.

"Over the past eight months, Greg Walthers – another passionate resident – and I have been working on a catalog meant to inspire more possibilities for a new Milwaukee downtown, one that isn't split by I-794," he says. "It features a new neighborhood, pedestrian/cyclist streets, a proper streetcar station, pedestrian/cyclist tunnels, and a vision of how we can reuse a road bridge."


There are tree-lined pedestrian walkways, a mix of classic and modern architectural styles, tunnels, and even a stunningly imagined hub for The Hop streetcar.

One half expected to see Jane Jacobs in one of the renderings smiling down from above the clouds.

You might agree with some of these ideas, or even all of them. You might disagree with all or some of them. But, Everitt's goal – which is an honorable and important one – is that we should be thinking about all of this stuff and about what's possible, not simply sticking with what we see and know now.

"Neither of us has any stake in what happens to I-794 beyond how it affects us as Milwaukee residents," Everitt says of himself and Walthers. "We understand how polarizing this topic has been. We welcome both editorial and public criticism; we just want everyone who cares to see how much we care.

The Hop
The Hop station
the hopX

 "As the final decision lies in the hands of the DoT, it is up to us to catch their attention and properly inform the Milwaukee public of the weight of what is happening. This has been a passion project for both of us, and we are only trying to offer more visualization to keep imaginations going and to keep the discourse positive."

You can see the entire 30-page catalog with its statistics, renderings, ideas and more here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.