Creative Placemaking

A Letter from the President: September 2015

The Greater Milwaukee Committee’s initiatives – in which many of you are involved – have unique and important impacts on our community. Two of our initiatives in particular are top-of-mind right now.

As you know, the GMC launched the creative placemaking committee last fall. The committee presently focuses on three main areas – the Beerline Trail Extension in Riverwest/Harambee, West Wisconsin Avenue, and Walker’s Point. Last week, the Beerline Trail Extension (also known as Beerline X) hosted events as part of Riverworks Week 2015, an event by Riverworks Development Corporation to showcase the area as Milwaukee’s emerging creative district.

Riverworks Week events included speakers, a “Dolphin Pool,” the Open Air Medina Market and many participating businesses in Doors Open Milwaukee (a celebration on the Beerline X was rescheduled due to severe weather). Hundreds of Riverwest and Harambee neighborhood residents, as well as residents of other Milwaukee neighborhoods, came out to support the week and the important work going on along the trail.

Riverworks Week shows the impact that the GMC and its creative placemaking committee have had on placemaking and economic strategy in Milwaukee. This corridor in Riverwest and Harambee of large industrial buildings often underused or vacant is now redefined as a growing creative district with the buildings now full of micro-creative industries. Real estate brokers and entrepreneurs now see the area as a spine for redevelopment. We look forward to continuing to work with our many community partners – and many of you – to encourage vibrancy, creativity and economic development in Milwaukee.

Our creative placemaking efforts on West Wisconsin Avenue are transforming the way people think and interact with the street. The Avenue is coming alive with over 300 new units of housing and another 400 proposed for development. WAM-DC is active on other redevelopment plans for the area. NEWaukee’s Night Markets bring alive an area in the past seen as empty and unsafe at night. Ten to twelve thousand people showed up for each Night Market this summer. Creative Alliance Milwaukee’s Spot 4MKE is bringing people and life to the long term vacant lot on 4th and Wisconsin.

The GMC’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative exemplifies the impact the GMC can have on innovative talent development strategies. Milwaukee has everything it needs for a thriving economy – small and large businesses, corporate headquarters, college students and plenty of talent – but it often struggles to connect everyone together.

Enter Walk the Talk. MiKE this year is partnering with Creative Alliance Milwaukee to host this one-day conference focusing on the intersection of creativity and innovation. The conference includes workshops and keynotes throughout the Third Ward and Walker’s Point – two of Milwaukee’s most innovative neighborhoods – to move attendees from talk to action.

Walk the Talk, on Wednesday, October 7th, connects artists, entrepreneurs, educators, young professionals, established professionals, industry experts, designers, creatives, and everyone in between, through speakers, workshops, one-on-one conversations with Milwaukee’s “Super Colliders,” a food truck lunch hour, a recess break and more. Showcasing the innovative and creative people, projects and businesses in Milwaukee, Walk the Talk provides a new and unique way for people to connect.

We hope that you’ll share information on Walk the Talk and our creative placemaking work with your networks and beyond.


Julia Taylor

Beerline Trail Extension Grand Opening

Formal construction and the initial landscaping of the Beerline Trail Extension have been completed.

On Monday, August 24th, Mayor Tom Barrett, Alderwoman Milele Coggs, Alderman Nik Kovac, Department of Public Works Commissioner Ghassan Korban, Greater Milwaukee Committee president Julia Taylor, Riverworks Center executive director Darryl Johnson and project coordinator Dasha Kelly presented at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the trail extension.

This extension of the Beerline Trail is an excellent example of “creative placemaking” in Milwaukee. The trail corridor is a former railroad line that historically served the brewing industry. This abandoned rail right-of-way has been reinvented as a multi-use non-motorized trail for walking, running, bicycling, skating and other forms of active transportation and recreation. This extension is the northern end of the existing Beerline Trail, which winds through the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. It includes berm installations and other landscaping to re-establish and support urban wildlife, as well as the ARTery – various art installations – along the trail.

Newly Opened ARTery Path Extends Beerline

Published August 25, 2015
From Urban Milwaukee

Local elected officials gathered yesterday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate the completion of the Beerline Trail extension. The extension adds a 10-foot wide asphalt trail to the Beerline Trail where there once was just a dirt path and is meant to encourage non-motorized transportation like walking, bicycling, and more (motorized wheelchairs and assistive scooters are allowed). The 0.67 mile long trail stretches from North Richards Street (just north of the intersection on E. Keefe Ave. and N Richards St.), through the railroad bridge over East Capitol Drive, and to a cul-de-sac just north of the railroad bridge. The trail connects the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods.

The trail is part of a larger space known as the ARTery, an “art park” that was home to Vedale Hill’s “Hoop Dreams” art project last year. The ARTery has taken over land that was once a railroad providing transportation for breweries, hence the Beerline name. After its decline, the area became “a hub for graffiti, drugs, and many shady things,” as Hill has noted. But now the area is open to public performances to any group in the area and is home to a performance space, sculptures, and many signs indicating the area has been reclaimed. In recent years, the park has hosted a variety of events meant to engage the community, including potluck dinners, open mic nights, musical and dance performances, mural painting and trivia games.

Dasha Kelly, Creative Consultant and Director of Still Waters Collective, said the project used community feedback to develop the activities and infrastructure that will go into the park. They invited the business community, arts community and residents to engage in different activities and events to envision how to make a space “that would be relevant to their everyday lives,” Kelly said. At last year’s summer music series here, Kelly noted, “people were amazed they were able to come together on this once abandoned space and not feel abandoned as themselves, abandoned as a network and abandoned as a voice.”

As part of the project, the group is not only developing the trail but also doing community development with the different businesses within the neighborhood.

The ARTery is part of the Creational Trails effort, which aims to “activate spaces as a means of encouraging acceptance and growth of the cultural diversity in Milwaukee,” according to its website. The project was initially funded using half of a $350,000 grant from ArtPlace America (which also funded other projects in Milwaukee). The ARTery project is led by the Greater Milwaukee Committee’s Innovation in Milwaukee (MiKE) initiative, and is managed by a non-profit organization called Beintween. The railroad property was bought by the city from a private owner before trail construction.

Read the full article here.


Community celebrates Beerline Trail extension

Published August 25, 2015
From the Neighborhood News Service

City officials and community leaders officially opened the extension of the Beerline Trail, part of a former railroad line that historically served the brewing industry. The abandoned rail right-of-way is now a multi-use trail for walking, running, biking and skating. The extension is at the north end of the existing Beerline Trail, which goes through the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods. The project is the result of a partnership between the City of Milwaukee, the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC), the Riverworks Development Corp., the Harambee Great Neighborhood Initiative, MKE<->LAX, beintween and other arts, cultural and community organizations.

Check out the slideshow here.

Ribbon cut for extension to Beerline Trail; now open for walkers, runners and bikers

Published August 24, 2015
From Fox 6

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s Beerline Trail is now open for walkers, runners and bikers.

The ribbon was cut on Monday, August 24th on the extension for the Beerline Trail.

This project is the result of a partnership between the city of Milwaukee and a number of community organizations.

The Beerline Trail is a former railroad line that historically served the brewing industry.

The extension runs through the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods.

“Let’s make it a space that the community can use, so we worked with some of the property owners along the way, with a paramount concern about security to make sure people could have access into and out of the path and how do we bring the neighborhood together and what you’re seeing today is a culmination of all that work,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Read the story and view the video here.

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