2017 - The Year of Wisconsin Avenue
Since 2014, 16 flagship properties along Wisconsin Avenue have announced plans for new construction, reinvestment or repurposing. In addition, a series of quality-of-life improvements will reestablish Wisconsin Avenue as Downtown Milwaukee’s premier business address.
Beginning June 2017, over 20 world-class sculptures will enliven the boulevard with an urban art experience. Meanwhile, 10 utility boxes will pop with color as they are transformed into 3-D murals, and new light will be shed upon West Wisconsin Avenue with Lighting the Avenue.
Quality-of-life improvements, including Key to Change, will strengthen the corridor’s clean and safe image, while a rerouted Milwaukee Trolley Loop, the under-construction Milwaukee Streetcar and proposed Bus Rapid Transit enhance connectivity. These exciting developments will increase pedestrian engagement and create a unique identity for Milwaukee’s vibrant main street.
2017 CATALYTIC PROJECTS & PROGRAMS
Sculpture Milwaukee, an outdoor urban sculpture experience, will visit downtown Milwaukee June through October 2017. Featuring 22 sculptures by 21 artists, the pieces will be positioned along Wisconsin Avenue from 6th Street to O'Donnell Park and will be free to the public.
The installation will include internationally renowned artists and three local artists. The sculptures will range in size and material with some towering as high as 40 feet!
Sculpture Milwaukee will be an amazing addition to the collection of activities already taking place in downtown Milwaukee this summer. Milwaukee is one of only a handful of cities to host a free, urban installation of this magnitude. Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 looks forward to welcoming the influx of visitors who will be drawn to this world-class public art installation, and engaging the community with programs and events. Stay tuned for an exciting update in early May 2017!
UTILITY BOX MURALS
The enthusiasm for downtown's past, present and future will soon shine at ten utility box locations along Wisconsin Avenue. The boxes will be used as canvases for a new mural installation in downtown Milwaukee.
In February, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21, with input from the Downtown Placemaking Task Force, rolled out a design competition to create surprise, delight and curiosity along the Avenue.
The Request for Creativity (RFC) invited artists working in all media to submit concepts that successfully reflected Wisconsin Avenue's rich history of commerce, diversity of architecture and people, and its undoubtedly bright future. Many creative and compelling submissions were received. The Downtown Placemaking Task Force expects to announce the winning artist(s) in late April 2017 with install beginning in May 2017.
WEST WISCONSIN AUDIO WALKING TOUR
In late May 2017, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 will roll out a walking audio tour of West Wisconsin Avenue. The tour will be housed under Otocast—a platform used by cities across the U.S. to highlight public art, architecture and historical monuments.
The focus of the West Wisconsin Avenue tour will be on public art and historical buildings, but it also will touch on the forward momentum of the Avenue. Milwaukee Downtown has identified 14 points of interest between 10th Street and the River. For each point of interest, there will be one voice narrating the significance of each location. While the intent is for it to be a walking tour, the tour can be downloaded and heard from virtually anywhere. The app is available on iTunes and Google Play, and is a free download.
The Milwaukee Trolley Loop presented by VISIT Milwaukee will begin service of its “Hop ‘n Shop, Wine ‘n Dine” route on June 1, 2017. The reconfigured 30-minute loop will now offer 15-minute headways and travel much of Wisconsin Avenue. In addition, hours of the service have been adjusted to include Sundays. The 2017 operating schedule will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays through Sundays, June 1 until August 27, 2017.
At just $1 per ride, the service remains a popular option for out-of-town guests and Milwaukee families looking for daytrip excursions. Destinations along the Milwaukee Trolley Loop route include the Milwaukee Public Market, Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee Public Museum, Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, The Shops of Grand Avenue, and the theater and hotel districts. The route also encompasses downtown’s many restaurants, shops, spas and salons.
LIGHTING THE AVENUE
In 2016, WAM DC LLC, Milwaukee Downtown, BID #21 and the Westown Association announced a Request for Proposal for the “Lighting the Avenue” initiative to solicit a creative lighting solution for West Wisconsin Avenue. This initiative responded to the charge set by Mayor Tom Barrett that resulted in the creation of WAM DC. The goal of WAM DC is to focus on the revitalization of West Wisconsin Avenue through a comprehensive approach that implements improvements to the physical environment, increases commercial and residential development, increases pedestrian traffic, and enhances programming and placemaking on West Wisconsin Avenue. Final submissions are under review and the selected concept and location are expected to be announced in May 2017.