By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Dec 29, 2009 at 1:04 PM

It's been a pretty big year for the Walker's Point neighborhood, from new development to new bars and cafes in century-old spaces. And from the sounds of it, 2010 is going to be just as exciting, if not more so. Here is an updated round up of what's been going on in the neighborhood.

Some of the biggest news of the year was just approved this December by the City's Public Works Committee. For years, 2nd Street, from St. Paul to National Avenues, has been in a state of serious disrepair. Wrought with potholes and cracks, the street was a mess to travel. Add to that a set of old trolley tracks beneath the street and the businesses along the stretch were subjected to vibration damage.

Thanks in large part to Walker's Point Association (WPA) Licensing Representative Juli Kaufmann, a complete reconstruction of Second  Street is scheduled to begin July 15, 2010. The new street plan reduces the street's width by eight feet and features a single lane in each direction and bike  lanes, which are required by the state DOT. The narrowing down to a single-lane street allows for double-width sidewalks, green space and a wider parking lane.

According to WPA Co-President Jennifer Espenscheid, the project will include recycled, energy-efficient concrete, six varieties of trees and $500,000 worth of street lighting.

The promise of a refinished street has perhaps motivated several new businesses to open along the thoroughfare.

Marketing firm partners Mike Kuharske and Marc Case recently opened Gravity Connect at 704 S. 2nd St., a free membership-based coffee house and "gathering place for creative professionals and the business community."

"As a marketing services firm, providing a way for the creative community to connect with each other and the business community allows us unlimited access to the creative talent in the region, not to mention the word-of-mouth advertising from thousands of members," says Kuharske.

Just down the block at 700 S. 2nd St. a new bar called Sabbatic held its grand opening Dec. 11. The old Union House Saloon is gone and in its place is a rockin' new watering hole in a gorgeous cream city brick building. Stay tuned to for a forthcoming feature on the new addition.

At 703 S. 2nd St., V Bar closed on Dec. 14 only to be quickly replaced by Ten Bells, which opened in its place Dec. 17. publisher Andy Tarnoff has the full report, including the interesting origin of its name, coming Thursday. Word on Twitter is that every Tuesday is Tattoo Tuesday, wherein showing ink gets $1 off beer.

Around the corner on National Avenue (124 W. National Ave.), the new and improved Dubliner, which closed in 1997, is staged to open just after the new year. Jerry Stenstrup, who also owns the famed Steny's Tavern at 800 s. 2nd St., is reopening the well-known watering hole. The bar has undergone extensive building reconstruction and expansion since its former days as Switch, a gay bar that closed in 2008 after a nine-year run.

Carte Blanche Studios is settling in to its new digs at 1024 S. 5th St. The multi-purpose creative space plays host to gallery evenings, theater productions, workshops and live music. It was founded in 2007 by Milwaukee Native Jimmy Dragolovich, a professional actor, director and filmmaker who recently returned to Milwaukee from New York. The theater recently wrapped up a successful run of "The Producers" and is gearing up for "Much Ado About Nothing" in February.

Lastly, this past December Milwaukee's Licensing Committee approved a rather surprising change for Club Rain, 906 S. Barclay St. The owner of the venue plans to change formats from a dance club to a country and western joint called Cadillac Jack's. No date has been set for the switch.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”