As Dan Cody noted, the tracts of land in the Park East area just north of Downtown that are owned by the City of Milwaukee have been developed, and are producing property tax revenue. Specifically, they are the Flat Iron condos, aLoft Hotel, and the North End condos.
According to the Department of City Development, “The Park East Corridor consists of over 60 acres, 24 of which are prime sites for redevelopment. The properties are located within the Milwaukee Downtown, in close proximity to the Milwaukee River. Milwaukee County owns 16 acres and is currently selling their properties through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process.”
By Dan’s take on this, the County has not been at all proactive about getting the land developed. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where the City is talking to the County about doing something with it, as discussed in this JS article. It’s disappointing that the County-owned portions of land have not been developed, and strange, too. As the County needs more revenue, which it makes from property taxes, why wouldn’t it push harder for that land to be developed? Those answers are beyond me at the moment. But here’s my idea: why doesn’t the City buy the land from the County, and turn it around for resale and development? As the County has been quick to sell some of its finer assets, i.e. the County Grounds, a firm argument could be made for doing this. In these times of county budget deficits, that seems doubly enticing to me.