In a move that may affect where we sit while writing future blogs like this, Mayor Tom Barrett today challenged the development community to help reinvent Milwaukee Public Library's East Library, 1910 E. North Ave., which sits across a parking lot from our offices.
Our building mates, Westbury Bank, will close on Aug. 12, amid rumors and speculation that the building will be sold as part of a plan to develop the site and the neighboring library site to include a new library and perhaps retail and residential development, too.
According to a statement released by the mayor's office today, however, MPL and the Department of City Development have issued a Request for Proposal for developers to acquire the library site and "redevelop it with a mixed-use building which would house a 21st century library on the ground floor and a secondary use above it to serve the community."
MPL will seek community input on the proposals.
MPL director Paula Kiely said East Library offers "the perfect opportunity to showcase a public-private approach to replacing an obsolete building with a modern structure that serves MPL and the East Side neighborhoods and business community."
The current East Library was built in 1968. It is a one-story building with nearly 14,000 square feet.
The new Villard Square Library is being held up as an example of the kind of project that could come to the East Side.
That branch library, at 35th and Villard, has a 13,000-square foot library at street level and three floors of apartments above. It is expected to open in October.
Though I'm not holding my breath, I'm hoping that the accepted proposal includes a penthouse office with lake and Downtown views for me and a rooftop deck for the frequent breaks I'd take if I had a rooftop deck at work.
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.