Milwaukee - The area of Capitol Drive between Humboldt Boulevard and Third Street may be in Milwaukee, but that it's still of interest to municipal leaders in neighboring Shorewood and Glendale.
That area of Capitol Drive, as well some areas north of Capitol Drive and as far south as Keefe Street, is known as the Riverworks Business Improvement District. It runs along the southeastern border of Glendale, as well as the Milwaukee River that separates Shorewood from Milwaukee.
Recognizing the benefits of collaborative planning, Shorewood Village Manager Chris Swartz and Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy sat down with developers, city of Milwaukee officials and Riverworks leaders Sept. 16 for a collaborative discussion on the corridor's future growth.
The brainstorming session, known as the "North Coast Summit," was led by Larry Witzling, a principal at GRAEF, an engineering, planning and design firm. The collaboration between the three communities is useful, Witzling said, because communities tend to prioritize development in the middle of the community instead of its border areas.
"It's always the other side of the road, the other side of the tracks," he said of these border areas. "It's on everybody's edge, but it's on nobody's center."
Access between the three communities could be opened up by connecting the Beerline Trail in Riverwest with the Oak Leaf Trail, suggested Carl Nilssen, chair of the Riverworks BID board.
Swartz said there are other opportunities for the neighboring communities to partner with each other, such as having collaborative discussions and being more aggressive with joint marketing efforts. In addition to being Shorewood's village manager, Swartz also serves on the board of directors for the Riverworks Business Improvement District.
Seeking an idea that is more concrete, Witzling encouraged Swartz, Kennedy and Riverworks Center Executive Director Darryl Johnson to brainstorm development opportunities that could span across their boundaries.
"I think Riverworks can really get out in front by becoming one of the first communities to do cross-jurisdictional development," Witzling said. "The real test is going to be the first major property development project, so when somebody drives down Capitol Drive, they point and say 'These two communities got together.' That's going to send a signal to the development community like we haven't seen before."
Swartz said he and Johnson have both talked about the possibility of a cross-jurisdictional tax incremental finance district that could revitalize the area of Capitol Drive and Humboldt Boulevard, located just across the river from Shorewood. That corner, which is home to a payday loan store and other businesses, is an "eyesore," Johnson said.
Rocky Marcoux, the commissioner of Milwaukee's Department of City Development, said Milwaukee does not use tax incremental financing as much as suburban communities, due to the attention that bond rating agencies place on speculative borrowing from larger cities. Marcoux said Milwaukee leaders might be open to a cross-jurisdictional TIF district in the Riverworks area if it met the city's priorities, mainly job opportunities.
Riverworks is one of Milwaukee's oldest, most effective business improvement districts, which Marcoux said would provide a solid foundation for such a new initiative.
"If we were to start somewhere with a cross-jurisdictional TID, Riverworks would be the place to start because of the infrastructure that you have here with Darryl (Johnson), your organization and your board," he said.
The properties along the Glendale-Milwaukee border are mostly in the Glendale Technology Center and Estabrook Corporate Park. As Glendale plans expansion efforts at Bayshore Town Center and possibly its Green Bay Avenue business district, Kennedy said Glendale will also be providing job opportunities for Milwaukee residents. Kennedy also said he would be open to discussing other possibilities for regional collaboration in the future.