Last April, I reported that Target was looking in Downtown Milwaukee. At the same time, I provided ideas on how to remake Downtown's Shops of Grand Avenue. It's time, though, to drastically rethink my ideas and call for big action at the aging shopping center.
I frequent the mall at least 2-3 times a week and want it to succeed. The merchants, security and staff are all friendly and focused, but after a visit this past Sunday, I think it's high time for its owner to make massive upgrades and changes to the dreary environment that lacks ambience.
My suggestions from last April are still relevant, and (I think) would work but I believe that a larger scale make over is due, probably over due. If nothing else, the mall has to be truly opened up to the street. But, as I said, I think it's time for something much bigger.
Grand Avenue's owners, New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp (ACC), should look to Columbus for inspiration. Why? Its downtown mall, a three-level center that opened in 1989 (Grand Avenue opened in 1982), will be torn down and replaced with a $165 million project called Columbus Commons. Plans show a nine-acre urban park, housing and retail development and new office buildings. It's time that Milwaukee also thinks this big.
I hear from several sources that there's interest in the former Linens ‘N Things space and that Target did look at the Plankinton Arcade, but, there's been little movement lately on either.
Need more background? UrbanMilwaukee.com has a new, thoughtful and in-depth piece. It's worth a read.
But, for now, please use the talkback function and let us know your thoughts for the Shops of Grand Avenue. Is it time to truly "blow it up" and start over?
Corrina, i ride the bus to and from work everyday and I don't live or work in downtown. My commute does pass through downtown and the bus is usually so full I can't get a seat. If that many people will ride on our filthy, crowded, and slow buses think how many would ride a nice new effiecent train.
No need to tear down the grand avenue, just gotta reintroduce it to the street. Every single store on Wisonsin Ave should have an entrance and sign on the street and in the mall. Also have to find different uses for the second floor of the mall. Maybe a health clinic or a dentist's office. Going strictly retail is death in a dense urban environment. The retail will get in where it fits in on its own. You don't really need to plan for it much. Get the other uses first. Maybe more housing as well.
I was on an airplane recently heading back to Milwaukee and ran across an ad in the airline's magazine for The Shops at GA touting it as Milwaukee's Premier Shopping experience. Knowing the truth, I felt sorry for 1st time visitors to Milwaukee who were actually expecting a premier shopping experience. Premier is hardly the word I would use to describe the stores there.
why in the world would anyone suggest tearing these building down. If "urban renewal" taught us anything is don't tear building down because all you get in return is parking lots! If some new mega development wants to go up there are plenty of available sites, but tearing down Grand Ave is just a big no.
Many cities have had downtown shopping malls fail...I am glad someone mentioned the Columbus deal where they completely overhauled the area. I say tear out portions that aren't used...in this economy no new high end retailer is going to take the chance downtown sorry just not happening. Replacing it w/ a street like State St sounds interesting..but I foresee the historic people having issues w/ ripping everything down.
Corrina As someone who lives and works downtown, I definitely see taking the streetcar, as currently proposed, (not light-rail folks) to the Public Market, Intermodal Station, and the Grand Ave (Boston Store) from where I live.
PS 20k people live downtown Corrina and 77k people are in downtown mke during the workday.
Show me the other 25 Talkbacks
30 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Jeff Sherman
Published Dec. 5, 2013
The hashtag #confessyourunpopularopinion was hot on Twitter yesterday. This national hashtag made me think, what's your unpopular Milwaukee opinion? Use the talkbacks, Twitter or Facebook and vent away.
Published Dec. 4, 2013
The Milwaukee Wave kicks off its home schedule on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 6 p.m. at the U.S. Cellular Arena. And, OnMilwaukee.com has your free tickets!
Published Dec. 3, 2013
Think about it. Camp Randall Stadium. Cameron Indoor Stadium. Allen Fieldhouse in Kansas. Ohio Stadium. Notre Dame Stadium. Bird's Nest soccer arena in Beijing. Miller Park. All made out of LEGO bricks.
Published Dec. 2, 2013
For Cyber Monday/Week, we'll do our small part but on a local level. Even with the OnMilwaukee.com Shop Local marketplace still in beta, the store's shelves are full and they await you.
Published Nov. 26, 2013
Have you seen B4N CU17 in the Downtown Milwaukee sky? Here's what it means.
Published Nov. 25, 2013
My wife watches "The Good Wife" and if you watched this past week's episode you saw what she saw, an explosion at the Milwaukee Food Festival.
Published Nov. 22, 2013
A locally owned, new French bakery/restaurant will open at 4401 N. Oakland Ave. at the former site of Lakeshore Gallery and, more recently, Performance Running Outfitters.
Published Nov. 21, 2013
Metro Milwaukee, greater Milwaukee or Milwaukeeland. Whatever you call it, "it" is way more than merely the City or County of Milwaukee. So, it's exciting to see that the Milwaukee area will work with the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase in a four-year project called the Exchange Network.
Published Nov. 15, 2013
Suburpia, a bit of a Milwaukee sandwich legend, opened a new location in Downtown Milwaukee this week at 612 N. Water St.
Published Nov. 14, 2013
Mazen Muna's first Dogg Haus restaurant opened April 1, 2005 and as he puts it "there hasn't been a dull moment for the last nine years." I caught up with him recently, and he provided some news on a new Water Street location and gave me his tips for making dogs at home.