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Thread: Planning Around Past Mistakes

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Planning Around Past Mistakes

    Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers which opened a couple-three years back, sits on a site in the Menomonie Valley on the city's west side. The State of Wisconsin owns the land, and the Legislative Audit Bureau just issued a report recommending that the parking lots be developed with commercial uses. The stadium is surrounded by 12,500 surface parking stalls covering 275 acres.

    In reality, the stadium never should have been built where it is. It belongs near downtown, where the "entertainment district" already exists. Placing it downtown was discussed at the time, and rejected for several reasons, which ultimately boil down to the Menomonie Valley site being easy to assemble and close to the highway system. So here are the issues:

    1) The City of Milwaukee wants to redevelop the Menomonie Valley as an indistrict, and has fought commercial development in the area.

    2) A new commercial center - retail and entertainment - will draw customers from existing ones including the downtown that is now making good headway in its efforts to renew and redevelop itself.

    3) Commercial space is in strong demand around the stadium. The neighboring city has welcomed it. Private developers attempted to develop land they own next to the stadium, but the City of Milwaukee refused to rezone it from industrial. It went to court, and the City eventually purchased the property.

    4) The Brewers' payroll is at the bottom of the league, and the team is for sale. It could leave the state, or the new owners may need a source of income. Redeveloping the parking lots could help in that area.

    5) Entertainment around a stadium makes sense. Without it, visitors to the city merely come to the game and then leave. Restaurants, bars, and retailers around the stadium would capture sales that otherwise might not happen or would happen elsewhere outside of the city. The city's revenues from sales taxes would increase.

    6) Milwaukee is built out. Where is new industrial development to go? The Menomonie Valley has been an industrial district and even has the environmental contamination to prove it.

    In short, we have a city that wants industrial uses and a market that demands commercial uses. It is a self-made problem that might have been avoided by siting the stadium where it really belongs. What should the city do now?
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  2. #2
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal
    Miller Park, the home of the Milwaukee Brewers which opened a couple-three years back, sits on a site in the Menomonie Valley on the city's west side. The State of Wisconsin owns the land, and the Legislative Audit Bureau just issued a report recommending that the parking lots be developed with commercial uses. The stadium is surrounded by 12,500 surface parking stalls covering 275 acres.

    In reality, the stadium never should have been built where it is. It belongs near downtown, where the "entertainment district" already exists. Placing it downtown was discussed at the time, and rejected for several reasons, which ultimately boil down to the Menomonie Valley site being easy to assemble and close to the highway system. So here are the issues:

    1) The City of Milwaukee wants to redevelop the Menomonie Valley as an indistrict, and has fought commercial development in the area.

    2) A new commercial center - retail and entertainment - will draw customers from existing ones including the downtown that is now making good headway in its efforts to renew and redevelop itself.

    3) Commercial space is in strong demand around the stadium. The neighboring city has welcomed it. Private developers attempted to develop land they own next to the stadium, but the City of Milwaukee refused to rezone it from industrial. It went to court, and the City eventually purchased the property.

    4) The Brewers' payroll is at the bottom of the league, and the team is for sale. It could leave the state, or the new owners may need a source of income. Redeveloping the parking lots could help in that area.

    5) Entertainment around a stadium makes sense. Without it, visitors to the city merely come to the game and then leave. Restaurants, bars, and retailers around the stadium would capture sales that otherwise might not happen or would happen elsewhere outside of the city. The city's revenues from sales taxes would increase.

    6) Milwaukee is built out. Where is new industrial development to go? The Menomonie Valley has been an industrial district and even has the environmental contamination to prove it.

    In short, we have a city that wants industrial uses and a market that demands commercial uses. It is a self-made problem that might have been avoided by siting the stadium where it really belongs. What should the city do now?
    Also, the site is hemmed in on the west by the hills, the VA hospital and a MASSIVE cemetery. I was always of a mind that the Miller Park Way ('secret' WI 341) interchange at the south side of the stadium was to be the west end of an extension of Canal Street, a major street that would then run the length of the Valley from 6th St. That street then wraps around the south and west sides of the stadium to feed into Mitchell BD. If anything, Miller Park will always be the west 'anchor' of whatever happens to the east.

    I agree, the only use that I can see for the land east of Miller Park Way is to rezone it to mixed heavy commercial and 'industrial strength density' residential. This is the former Milwaukee Road shops and classification yard area and is not really attractive for any industrial use, as it is somewhat hard for trucks to get between it and I-94 (don't forget the problems that come with being an EPA 'non-attainment' area, too). I am also assuming that a major clean-up of that land will be a part of whatever it does become. I am also not 100% convinced that the Potawatomi (Indian) casino is always going to be where it is on Canal St (at about 19th St), with that State Supreme Court ruling against it a couple of days ago.

    City bullheadedness on the zoning of the Menomonee Valley is quite consistant with the STIFLING restrictions that were placed on the land that was formerly the Park East Freeway (WI 145) ROW on the north edge of downtown, such that that otherwise very attractive land is still sitting vacant and unwanted and is likely to remain so for quite some time into the future. I am very anxious to see if the new Mayor (Tom Barrett) is going to start pulling some strings to get things happening in those areas.

    Also, I believe that the city does not levy a sales tax, only Milwaukee County, the State of Wisconsin, the Stadium District and Wisconsin Center District do.

    (BTW, the Brewers are actually playing decent, entertaining baseball so far this season :-0 and I do want to go to a couple of games yet this year )

    Mike

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Um, short and sweet:
    Unless they are willing to tear down the stadium and move it, they should Get Over It and conclude that they are "in for a penny, in for a pound" and go with commercial development around the stadium. :-}

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Doitnow!!'s avatar
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    market that demands commercial uses
    Whether u like it or not it is better to go with the market.
    If you cannot drive the market, you get driven by it.
    But is there a way to channelise the development the way you think is best.

    Can you avoid giving in totally to teh commercial wave?
    Would this commercial development help the local economy or outsiders?
    BTW, What kind of Industrial Development are you talking about specifically?
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  5. #5
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    just say no to the dh

    all miller park problems aside, everyone should be glad they are now in the national league. no more designated hitter.

    as someone who has never been to milwaukee, i sort of thought that all the newer ballparks post camden were in the downtown areas. i mean, it was such a stunning example of success, why wouldn't other cities emulate that when building new parks? an example i'm familiar with is pac bell... uhhh, sbc park in san francisco which is built to the south of the downtown area. though its in the middle of the massive mission bay redevelopment area, there's no doubt that much of the retail activity has stemmed from the infused and overflowing activity from the ballpark.

    miller park looks pretty nice from the inside though, it's a good thing they never showed where it's located on tv, i might actually change my opinion.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by xtrapedestrial
    all miller park problems aside, everyone should be glad they are now in the national league. no more designated hitter.
    AMEN to THAT!!!


    Quote Originally posted by xtrapedestrial
    as someone who has never been to milwaukee, i sort of thought that all the newer ballparks post camden were in the downtown areas. i mean, it was such a stunning example of success, why wouldn't other cities emulate that when building new parks? an example i'm familiar with is pac bell... uhhh, sbc park in san francisco which is built to the south of the downtown area. though its in the middle of the massive mission bay redevelopment area, there's no doubt that much of the retail activity has stemmed from the infused and overflowing activity from the ballpark.

    miller park looks pretty nice from the inside though, it's a good thing they never showed where it's located on tv, i might actually change my opinion.
    Miller Park is a wonderfull place to watch baseball, I enjoy going to games there.

    As can be seen from the aerial image http://terraserver-usa.com/image.asp...=2978&z=16&w=2 Miller Park's location is somewhat analogious to that of Pac Bell Park in San Francisco. It is in a highly visible and accessable near-downtown location in a valley on the city's blue-collar west side. The image, taken in early 2000, shows Miller Park under construction in what was the parking lot beyond centerfield of old Milwaukee County Stadium (southwest of the freeway interchange on the west side of the image. Downtown Milwaukee is at the image's east edge. The heavily industrialized Menomonee River Valley extends eastward from the stadium south of the east-west Freeway (I-94) towards Lake Michigan (just off the image to the east).

    I do agree with the logic of building Miller Park where it was, as land acquisition and parking in the downtown area would likely have killed the entire idea of a new stadium (the whole issue of building what is now Miller Park was MASSIVELY controversial throughout the 1990s and almost didn't come to fruition as it was).

    The Milwaukee City Council and Mayor's office are at bat now and they really have no other choice but to loosen up and let the 'Valley' redevelop with non-industrial uses. The roadblock appears to me to be some local community 'leaders' who want lost high-paying industrial jobs to come back into that area, something that I don't see happening for a looooong time, if ever.

    Mike

    Quote Originally posted by Doitnow!!
    Whether u like it or not it is better to go with the market.
    If you cannot drive the market, you get driven by it.
    But is there a way to channelise the development the way you think is best.

    Can you avoid giving in totally to teh commercial wave?
    Would this commercial development help the local economy or outsiders?
    BTW, What kind of Industrial Development are you talking about specifically?
    Milwaukee is historically known for the heavy 'smokestack' type of industrial. Truck frames, small engines, motorcycles (Harley-Davidson's HQ and some of their major plants are in the Milwaukee area), machine tools, etc type of manufacturing has been and to a lesser extent still is the 'backbone' of the area's blue-collar existance, although that activity has been in a serious decline since the 1960s. Even though it too is less than it once was, beer brewing has also been part of Milwaukee since the city's earliest days, Miller Brewing has its HQ and major brewery within eyeshot of Miller Park.

    Mike
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 17 May 2004 at 8:03 AM.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Glasshouse's avatar
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    I'd be intrested in finding out who benifits the most from the zoning and screwed location of the stadium.

    Then find out where thier ties to the city are.

    Everybody may be against one person, or one org. with some big $$.

    Hope I don't get a visit from the mob for this post.

    Bob

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Glasshouse
    I'd be intrested in finding out who benifits the most from the zoning and screwed location of the stadium.

    Then find out where thier ties to the city are.

    Everybody may be against one person, or one org. with some big $$.

    Hope I don't get a visit from the mob for this post.

    Bob
    There has never been aby question of irregularities with the siting of the stadium. Milwaukee (with the exception of a pension scandal that can be attributed more to blundering than corruption) is a clean city, politically speaking. The land on which the stadium is located is owned by the State of Wisconsin, leased to the Stadium Authority, which in turn has leased the stadium to the Brewers.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    The land in the Menomonee Valley to the east of Miller Park should most definitely have a primary focus on industrial development, rather than retail.

    It's a prime location for new industries, that will have good access to the freeay system (as soon as the links are in place in the near future), as well as the freight railroad lines that run the entire 3-mile length of the Valley.

    The Valley can offer several large parcels of land, which these days most industrial developments need for their large facilities. There are very few places in the city where such large amounts of land are even avaliable anymore (and even then, their locations can put them at a disadvantage compared to the Valley).

    The neighborhhoods immediately north and south, adjacent to the Valley, have the highest concentrations of unemployment in the state. Focusing on industrial jobs will provide family-sustaining wages to those residnets. Minimum-wage restaurant/retail jobs aren't very family-sustaining.

    Milwaukee does not need a retail strip development/pseudo-shopping mall/big-box center built in that location to drain away customers from other retail corridors in the city (Downtown and in other neighborhoods).

    A baseball stadium and its vast surface parking lots has been the western anchor to the Menomonee Valley since 1953 (prior to that, the site was a stone quarry). If anything, the stadium's parking lots should be redeveloped with retail/restaurant/bar activities--not the (former Milwaukee Road railyard/shops) land next to the parking lot which the City recently aquired--but that's something the Brewers would have to think about (since they'd have to give up or replace some of their precious parking spaces). This would actually allow such retail/restaurant/bar establishments to be closer to the stadium than if they were built on the open land next to the existing parking lots (which would be quite a hike to get there).

    It should also be noted that the kind of industrial development the City wants to target for the Valley is not so much the heavy manufacturing, smoke-belching, noisy, dirty factories of yesteryear. It is envisioned as a mix of lighter industrial/warehouse/tech uses, with some recreational/environmental areas in there as well, and probably some convenience-type retail places for workers. There will be an interesting emphasis on environmental sustainability in the architeure and urban design.

    Anyway, more detailed information can be found at the Menomonee Valley Partners website.


    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    I was always of a mind that the Miller Park Way ('secret' WI 341) interchange at the south side of the stadium was to be the west end of an extension of Canal Street, a major street that would then run the length of the Valley from 6th St. That street then wraps around the south and west sides of the stadium to feed into Mitchell BD.
    Yes, this is exactly what will be happening with the Canal Street extention, once it gets underway. Once this link is put in, it opens up the western end of the Valley, the former railroad shops/yard site for development--and will provide trucking access for industrial developments on that land. Other access improvements certainly could come later.

    Quote Originally posted by mgk920
    City bullheadedness on the zoning of the Menomonee Valley is quite consistant with the STIFLING restrictions that were placed on the land that was formerly the Park East Freeway (WI 145) ROW on the north edge of downtown, such that that otherwise very attractive land is still sitting vacant and unwanted and is likely to remain so for quite some time into the future.
    Those stifling restirctions (the community development argreement--requirements for living-wages for construction workers/jobs created by new development, and an affordable housing mandate) haven't actually been enacted yet--it's an active proposal that is still in discussion, because certain committee members keep tabling the issue. The regular redevelopment plan for the Park East corridor has been ready to be approved for a while (it was ready for approval last year, even before Mayor Norquist left), but had been stalled because the CBA-supporters (including Acting Mayor Pratt) wanted to attach their additional regulations to it. Unfortunately until the City Council and new Mayor Barrett can sort that out, the land cannot be made available for redevelopment.

    Quote Originally posted by Glasshouse
    I'd be intrested in finding out who benifits the most from the zoning and screwed location of the stadium.
    The Brewers benefit the most from the screwed location of the stadium!

    Taxpayers foot much of the bill for the stadium.

    They also benefit from the parking revenues (which is one of the main reasons they didn't want a Downtown stadium--no room for a giant surface lot, no interest in going with parking garages, parking competition from existing garages nearby).

    And let's not forget the segment of freeway that had to be relocated to make room for Miller Park to be built in the parking lot of it's predecessor, County Stadium.

    Somebody was pretty accomodating to the Brewers, but it seems as if it would've been at the State-level (the Mayor wanted to have the stadium downtown).
    Last edited by NHPlanner; 17 May 2004 at 8:05 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Markitect
    The Brewers benefit the most from the screwed location of the stadium!

    Taxpayers foot much of the bill for the stadium.

    They also benefit from the parking revenues (which is one of the main reasons they didn't want a Downtown stadium--no room for a giant surface lot, no interest in going with parking garages, parking competition from existing garages nearby).

    And let's not forget the segment of freeway that had to be relocated to make room for Miller Park to be built in the parking lot of it's predecessor, County Stadium.

    Somebody was pretty accomodating to the Brewers, but it seems as if it would've been at the State-level (the Mayor wanted to have the stadium downtown).
    Another major factor against siting it in the downtown area was with the lack of a big surface parking area, the time-honored tradition of the tailgate party, complete with the grill, hamburgers, beer, bratwurst, etc, would have pretty much ended. Wisconsinites take those sorts of things very seriously!

    Also, it was definitely the state government that led the way on getting Miller Park built. To say that it was a highly contentious subject is one of the biggest understatements of the 1990s in Wisconsin, it included 'overnighters' in the state legislature, a legislative recall election and a party change in one of its houses.

    Mike

  11. #11
    Cyburbian jresta's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by xtrapedestrial
    as someone who has never been to milwaukee, i sort of thought that all the newer ballparks post camden were in the downtown areas. i mean, it was such a stunning example of success, why wouldn't other cities emulate that when building new parks? an example i'm familiar with is pac bell... uhhh, sbc park in san francisco which is built to the south of the downtown area. though its in the middle of the massive mission bay redevelopment area, there's no doubt that much of the retail activity has stemmed from the infused and overflowing activity from the ballpark.
    The Phillies and Eagles both used to play in the Vet. The original plan was to build one new ballpark for both teams just north of Chinatown, within walking distance of all of the regional rail lines and the Subway. The local opposition was intense, and rightly so, i think. The other option was above the railyards at 30th St. Station. It would've made a lot of sense but the team owners wanted their own stadiums so the city and the state not only obliged but footed the bill.

    Rather than split the two stadiums up but still keep them near the regional rail lines (most attendees are from the 'burbs) and still on the fringes of Center City they kept them at the intersection of 95 and 76 in the far corner of the city. Reinforcing it as yet another "suburban playground in the city."

    Dumb in my book but know we're stuck with it for 30+ years. A great article was written recently on how to "fix the mistake" that involves more than putting lipstick on a pig. http://citypaper.net/articles/2004-0...ityspace.shtml

    speaking of "planning" mistakes. I was driving home from my parents last weekend and as i was coming down 95 i took a quick look around as we crossed over 276. There's never been a direct link between the PA Turnpike and 95 but that is all about to change. For the first time ever you'll be able to drive directly from Philly to New York without having to get on a local road. The mistake comes 2 miles later. 4 years ago PennDOT opened a new series of ramps (some serious earthmoving and bridges went into this) to link 95 to the PA Turnpike/276 via a state highway and US 13. Why the money was wasted on a high-capacity ramp system when the other project was in the pipeline is beyond me but that seems to be the way the DOTs operate. If you planned it build it - if you don't need it anymore build it anyway.
    Indeed you can usually tell when the concepts of democracy and citizenship are weakening. There is an increase in the role of charity and in the worship of volunteerism. These represent the élite citizen's imitation of noblesse oblige; that is, of pretending to be aristocrats or oligarchs, as opposed to being citizens.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian
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    Low and behold, an article in today's Milwaukee Business Journal says the Wiscosnin Legislative Audit Bureau is suggesting the Brewers develop some of Miller Park's parking lots into retail/entertainment uses--to help the team increase revenue and attract a new owner...and I just suggested that in my post last night without even knowing it.

    Field of development?: Development in stadium lots would benefit Brewers

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