Directly across the street from Milwaukee's iconic Allen-Bradley clock tower stands what was once a 277,420 square foot vacant lot. The unused property is changing dramatically with construction well underway for the exciting Freshwater Plaza development located within the Milwaukee Water Technology District.

Late last year the groundbreaking for the highly anticipated Freshwater Plaza took place at 1320 South 1st Street. This $46 million mixed-use project is being developed by Wangard Partners, Inc. The development is adjacent to the inner harbor, and will be the gateway to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences. Wangard Partners, Inc. specialize in green, sustainable, and efficient spaces for office, multifamily, industrial, and retail developments nationwide.

Currently, the potential development phases include:

  • A 46,280-square-foot Cermak Fresh Market
  • A 6,600-square-feet of retail including a potential financial institution building and two additional retail buildings
  • An L-shaped, four-story mixed-use building providing 15,900 square feet of commercial space and three floors of apartments
  • A future 50,000-square-foot office building

WHEDA allocated $10 million in New Markets Tax Credits toward two of the phases of the Plaza: the construction of a four story mixed-use building with first floor retail and 98 apartment units and the Cermak Fresh Market grocery store. Some policy makers and advocates have claimed Milwaukee has its share of food deserts. That's where a significant number of residents live more than one mile from the nearest supermarket. Cermak will address an incredible need for more grocery stores in the Transform Milwaukee area.

There's been an explosion of economic growth in Milwaukee's Water Technology District. It started when Governor Scott Walker, WHEDA Executive Director Wyman Winston and other key partners took part in the groundbreaking and eventual grand opening of the Global Water Center. A study indicates since then there's been an astounding $211.6 million worth of development in the district. The Freshwater Plaza will serve to enhance the area's economic impact.

Many partners were involved in supporting the Freshwater Plaza including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). WEDC awarded a Brownfield grant for $685,542 to aid in the environmental work on the former Grede Foundry site. In addition, Wangard Partners, Inc. has worked closely with the DNR in site cleanup.

First-ring Industrial Redevelopment Enterprise (FIRE), a West Allis community development entity, also provided New Market Tax Credits in the amount of $12 million. Additionally, Tax Incremental Financing was provided by the city of Milwaukee and loans were provided by Tri-City National Bank, National Cooperative Bank and Impact 7.