Last April, I reported that Target was looking in Downtown Milwaukee. At the same time, I provided ideas on how to remake Downtown's Shops of Grand Avenue. It's time, though, to drastically rethink my ideas and call for big action at the aging shopping center.
I frequent the mall at least 2-3 times a week and want it to succeed. The merchants, security and staff are all friendly and focused, but after a visit this past Sunday, I think it's high time for its owner to make massive upgrades and changes to the dreary environment that lacks ambience.
My suggestions from last April are still relevant, and (I think) would work but I believe that a larger scale make over is due, probably over due. If nothing else, the mall has to be truly opened up to the street. But, as I said, I think it's time for something much bigger.
Grand Avenue's owners, New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp (ACC), should look to Columbus for inspiration. Why? Its downtown mall, a three-level center that opened in 1989 (Grand Avenue opened in 1982), will be torn down and replaced with a $165 million project called Columbus Commons. Plans show a nine-acre urban park, housing and retail development and new office buildings. It's time that Milwaukee also thinks this big.
I hear from several sources that there's interest in the former Linens ‘N Things space and that Target did look at the Plankinton Arcade, but, there's been little movement lately on either.
Need more background? UrbanMilwaukee.com has a new, thoughtful and in-depth piece. It's worth a read.
But, for now, please use the talkback function and let us know your thoughts for the Shops of Grand Avenue. Is it time to truly "blow it up" and start over?
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.