Could a South Milwaukee brewery be on the horizon? Yes, if a local developer gets the OK to move ahead with a new plan.
South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks this morning announced that Brew City architecture and development firm Vetter Denk has proposed a roughly $6.6 million development for Downtown SoMo that would include a 5,000-square foot microbrewery and beer garden, an 8,000-square foot green space, about 5,000 square feet of retail or restaurant space and 24 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments.
The three-story development, at 11th and Madison Avenues, would be adjacent to the South Milwaukee Downtown Market. It was presented to the South Milwaukee Plan Commission on Aug. 22 and will seek approval at the commission’s Sept. 26 meeting, according to Brooks.
"This project would be a game-changer for downtown South Milwaukee," Mayor Erik Brooks said in a statement. "It is one of the biggest developments in our city center in decades and it will serve as a catalyst in our ongoing downtown redevelopment efforts.
"It’s especially exciting to have a first-class firm like Vetter Denk behind this. From the Beerline riverfront condominiums in Milwaukee to their work in redeveloping Green Bay’s waterfront, Vetter Denk’s track record is second to none. They will raise the bar for development, redevelopment and design across our city."
According to Brooks, the proposed site covers five city-owned parcels on three-quarters of an acre within one of four TIF districts in South Milwaukee. He added that Vetter Denk will likely want to use TIF funding for the development.
The land is currently vacant, except for a stage and picnic table seating area for the market, Brooks told me. But it previously was home to a couple taverns, an HVAC business and a surface parking lot.
"This project will be a huge lift for our continued work in our city center," Brooks said. "It shows that our hard work to redefine what South Milwaukee can be is paying off, and this is just the beginning."
No potential brewery, retail or restaurant lessees have yet been named, but Brooks’ statement claimed, "strong interest" in the retail spaces.
If necessary approvals are obtained, Vetter Denk expects to break ground in spring.
"The market feels this is a creative use of these land parcels. We are very pleased that the developers are incorporating the South Milwaukee Downtown Market into the design," said Downtown Market Board Chairwoman Carol Rehak.
John Vetter, co-owner of Vetter Denk, said the market – that opened in 2009 and runs every Thursday through summer and early autumn – was a "key factor" in the siting of the development.
"We are very excited to lead the way in South Milwaukee with a project that conforms to the unique opportunities of South Milwaukee," said Vetter. "The recently completed comprehensive plan shows a deep commitment by the city administration and residents to rethink the city for a new age – and this project will serve as a testament to that collective desire."
I think this victory for the M streets would also be a boon to the tree streets.
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.