First, I read this item, “City proposes spending $6.5 million on south side business park“; it discusses the City of Milwaukee looking at buying up a bunch of industrial wasteland in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, near the southeast corner of the Menominee Valley. The description of the border intrigued me: “…the former Reed Street Yards property, bounded roughly by S. 6th St., S. 3rd St., the Menominee River Canal, and W. Florida St.”
In my head: “I know where that is. I’ve… driven through there! Huh… but what is there?” With that, I fired up the ever-trusty Google Maps. Sure enough, typing in “w florida st milwaukee” dropped me right between Sixth and Third Streets on Florida. (How did we do anything before Google and the web? I remember it well, but…)
So I poked around. Switch to Street View, and poke around there yourself. Fascinating to look at: grand old buildings, empty-looking rail yards and parking lots. I wondered if some of those old buildings couldn’t be refashioned into something like what Sweet Water Organics has done with the old Harnishfeger plant on Austin and Ward Streets. I pressed on.
After zooming out and surveying the area in Satellite mode, and was startled to see what appeared to be a pristine running track and athletic field! What on earth was this? Clicking back into Street View, I thought I recognized a blurred out Marquette University logo. With some quick digging, I found my suspicion was correct: Marquette Athletics has some very beautiful facilities there on the south edge of the Menominee River known as the Valley Fields. It’s impressive to look at from afar. What else could happen in there?
My curiosity led me to another Google search for Reed Street Yards, which was the name of the old industrial facility located there. In addition to some stories on that area being made into a TIF district, there is a proposal to turn the area into “an Entertainment Lifestyle Center.” While phrases such as that give me an uncomfortable quiver, the idea bears examination. Why not have a soccer field there? Add some rail and bus access, and we’d be talking about a major rebirth for that area.
The City’s interest in turning it into a water technology center may bear even more fruit, although given the huge area in question, a simpler business district makes sense as well. But, if people just want a business park, they can go to the suburbs. There’s plenty out there, and I have a hunch they’re not such a hot commodity nowadays. A facility dedicated to the city’s new calling of water technology, combined with a football soccer arena could be a winning combination. I fully encourage the City to take this bull by the horns. The payoff could be tremendous.
(h/t to Rob V for the indirect inspiration!)