By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jan 11, 2023 at 10:25 AM

Harley-Davidson, Inc. announced plans on Wednesday to turn a huge swath of parking lot at its headquarters campus on 37th and Juneau into a public park.

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"The Hub" – a circular park designed by acclaimed London-based Heatherwick Studios, which designed Manhattan's unique Little Island park in the Hudson River – will be, according to a Harley statement, "a civic and soulful green gathering space that can be used by everyone, including employees and the local community."

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The park will have an 83-foot-wide sunken multipurpose event space with a stage, seating tiers, trees and plantings of 120 native species and 100 perennials, including species sacred to the Forest County Potawatomi (the tribe owns a number of properties in the neighborhood, including its Wgema Campus).

Plans also call for a market space, contemplative garden and nature playground.

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Harley's Juneau Avenue complex has long been the company headquarters and is located near where the company was founded in 1903.

However, factory operations moved from the site years ago and last autumn the company announced it planned to repurpose the large multi-building complex, which now serves as office space and home to Harley's sales and service training centers.

This project is the first to be announced in that repurposing.

The park, which will constructed using 10 types of locally sourced brick, natural timber and weathered steel.

Its design will involve HGA Architects and be constructed by Greenfire Management Services.

"Milwaukee is the place we have proudly called home for 120 years. We want Harley-Davidson's presence in Milwaukee to be more relevant than ever before, for our community, employees and our customers," said Jochen Zeitz, Chairman, President and CEO of Harley-Davidson, in Wednesday's announcement.

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"It's important to us to protect and enhance this part of our heritage in a way that is aligned to our strategy, ensuring that it will be relevant to generations to come. Kicking the project off in our 120th year underscores both the importance of the project and the commitment that we are making to Milwaukee.

"We are very proud by the work of the Harley-Davidson Foundation in spearheading this project, which builds on the $30 million donated by the Motor Company to the Foundation since 2020."

The park's development will be run, initially, by The Harley-Davidson Foundation. However, Harley plans to make longer-term sponsorship and donor opportunities available soon.

The land for the project has been donated by Harley to the Foundation.

"Our goal is to turn this historic factory land into a new public park for the people of Milwaukee," said Thomas Heatherwick, founder and Director of Heatherwick Studios. "We want to make an exciting community space where people can come together with friends and family and experience the wildness of nature alongside spaces for food, performance and play.

"The ambition is to highlight and celebrate renewed life in the Near West Side of this very special city."

Ground is expected to be broken in spring with completion projected by summer of 2024.

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 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.