Economic Development

Among the many benefits of a fixed-rail transit system such as The Milwaukee Streetcar are the numerous potential economic development opportunities it provides and supports.  Streetcars do more than simply improve mobility.


Milwaukee Downtown's Streetcar Development and Investment Guide

To help support and promote development along and near the streetcar corridor in downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, Milwaukee Downtown (Business Improvement District #21) has published a "MKE Streetcar Development and Investment Guide."  This interactive online tool highlights the many development, redevelopment and commercial lease opportunities that exist along or within walking distance to the Phase 1 main line and Lakefront Line extension routes.

On many occasions, civic leaders and real estate developers have mentioned The Milwaukee Streetcar as being a positive asset for development, either in general terms or as part of a specific project announcement.

411 building sells for 70% more than previous sale price 3 years ago
(July 2017) Middleton Milwaukee Investors, LLC purchased the 30 story office building for $124.6 million. There is a streetcar stop on Milwaukee Street right outside of the building.

Investment group buys 4 story building on Broadway
(July 2017) Owner of Mackie and Mitchell buildings, Josh Jeffers, purchases 24,800 sq. ft. building along with an investors group. Plans are to create the 5,400 sq. ft. first floor into a restaurant and leave the upper floors as offices.

Associated Bank branch to move to Wisconsin Avenue in the Two Fifty building
(April 2017) The Green Bay based banking company plans to relocate its current branch located at 401 E. Kilbourn Avenue to a 2,100 sq. ft. space on Wisconsin Avenue directly on the streetcar route and adjacent to a streetcar stop in the Two Fifty building. The project plans to put in a drive-thru lane and signage. "I'm pleased and excited to confirm that Associated Bank will open a retail branch on the first floor of the Two-Fifty office tower in early fall of 2017. The new retail bank location will activate the corner of Broadway and Wisconsin Avenue in the heart of the (commercial business district)," says Marnie Noel, vice president at JLL.

$20 million senior living community and church proposed for lower east side
(April 2017) St. Rita's Church, at the corner of Cass and Pleasant, two blocks from the streetcar route, could be redeveloped into "St. Rita's Square." The project would include a six-story senior apartment building, 2,800 square feet of street-level retail space, enclosed parking and a new church. The proposed $20 million development is the work of Three Holy Women Parish and Tarantino & Co., the operator of Capri Senior Communities. The project will require Common Council and Mayoral zoning approval.

$90 million high-rise planned for Third Ward parking lot at St. Paul & Water
(February 2017) A 22-story, $90 million high-rise is planned for a Third Ward parking lot at the corner of St. Paul Ave. and Water St. on the Milwaukee River, adjacent to the streetcar line. The development would include a hotel, residences, retail and interior parking. The development is led by Milwaukee-based Aggero Group. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, "(Aggero Group principal Tony) Janowiec said the design is intended to be a "grand gateway" into the 3rd Ward, saying "that is not an iconic statement, that is an accessibility statement." It would complement amenities such as the downtown streetcar, which will run on St. Paul Avenue past the building."

New BMO Harris Financial Center at Market Square touts proximity to streetcar
(December 2016) In partnership with Irgens Development, BMO Harris Bank has proposed a 25-story, 335-foot tower to be occupied by BMO Harris Bank (123,000 square-feet) and Michael Best & Friedrich (59,000 square-feet) with additional space available. The new building, targeted for completion in late 2019, will be constructed next to BMO Harris Bank's present location at 770 N. Water Street and will be named the BMO Harris Financial Center at Market Square. According to BMO Harris, the project "Reinforces BMO's commitment to the economic development of the city, and adds to the momentum of Milwaukee's downtown renaissance." Project renderings highlight the site's location adjacent to the streetcar.

Marcus Corp. considers 20-story, mixed-use development “Edison Place”
(June 2016) Milwaukee-based The Marcus Corporation is considering a 20-story, mixed-use development at Water and Knapp that could include office, residential, retail, restaurants, health club and 8-screen movie theater. According to the project’s planning firm, Baltimore’s InPlace Design, “It presents sleek lines and contemporary forms, and eye-catching exteriors incorporating billboard and media elements, angular asymmetries, expansive glass frontage and pedestrian avenues. That downtown connection, along with the planned streetcar line make Edison Street an integral part of an energized and developing downtown Milwaukee community.”

New apartments planner for Pabst brewery complex
(June 2016) – Co-developers Milhaus Development of Indianapolis and Milwaukee-based WiRED Properties are planning to develop two vacant lots at the former Pabst brewery complex into 274 apartments with ground floor retail, representing a $40 million investment. According to the Milwaukee Sentinel, Milhaus’ director of development Greg McHenry emphasized that “The Brewery's strengths include its closeness to I-43 and downtown, as well as the future Bucks arena and a proposed extension of the streetcar service.” Plans call for the first units to become available late 2017.

22-story Chase Tower office building acquired
(June 2016) Southfield, Mich.-based Farbman Group has acquired the 22-story Chase Tower office building, located one block from the Phase 1 streetcar route at Water and Wisconsin, for $30.5 million An investment in building upgrades is planned. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, company CEO Andy Farbman said “he is bullish on the downtown Milwaukee market, considering investments in the new downtown arena, projects such as the streetcar, and neighborhoods such as the 3rd Ward.” Farbman added, “We think the investment that is going into the market right now is very exciting.”

$100 million east side luxury apartment tower
(May 2016) The Mandel Group, Inc. has unveiled plans for a $100 million luxury apartment high-rise on Milwaukee's east side, with groundbreaking slated for spring 2017. The residential development will offer studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment designs described as spacious, sprawling and comfortable. Amenities will include a spa-inspired pool, resident lounge with private bar and pedestrian-friendly location. The project’s website boasts "Outdoor recreation surrounds you with parks, walking and biking trails, and the lakefront immediately adjacent to Portfolio. The addition of the Milwaukee Streetcar will transport you when you want to leave the car at home and connect to the city in a new and profound way."

Third Ward mixed-use development
(April 2016) According to BizTimes Milwaukee, a new mixed-use development is planned for the surface parking lot on the southwest corner of East St. Paul Avenue and North Water Street. Chuck Biller and Tony Janowiec of Milwaukee-based Aggero Group have an option to purchase the site at 333 N. Water St. which they say may include a hotel or multi-family development. “It’s such an important site,” Janowiec said. “It’s the gateway to the Third Ward, it’s on the streetcar line, it borders the (downtown) central business district, and it’s one of the four remaining signature sites in the Third Ward.”

Third Ward office building
(March 2016) The Milwaukee Business Journal's Sean Ryan reports on Irgens' proposed 168,000-square-foot, five-story office building southeast of Catalano Square in Milwaukee's Third Ward neighborhood. Irgens is a commercial real estate solutions firm based in based in Milwaukee, Chicago and Phoenix. The new building would be located at the intersection of Young, Erie and Milwaukee streets. In a presentation to the Historic Third Ward Architectural Review Board, project architect Aaron Ebent of Kahler Slater Inc. said "the site is on a planned future extension of the Milwaukee streetcar route."

Milwaukee Street restaurant
(February 2015) The owner of the Maharaja restaurant on Milwaukee's east side has purchased the building at 770 N. Milwaukee St., on the streetcar route, and is seeking a tenant to rent the building as a restaurant or bar. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, Prince Singh, son of Maharaja owner Balbir Singh, said "It's in a really hot spot in Milwaukee and the new streetcar is going to be right in that area," Prince Singh said. "Milwaukee is growing and we're really excited to be there."

Post Office
(October 2015) Being on The Milwaukee Streetcar route is one reason for the $13 million purchase and major redevelopment of Downtown's main post office building announced yesterday for the site, the Chicago buyer says. The redevelopment is expected to include retail, a high-end grocery, offices and restaurants.

Northwestern Mutual Real Estate
(October 2015) “The adjacent amenities are really excellent — local groceries, restaurants, entertainment options and hopefully, in the future, proximity to the streetcar.” - Tom Zale, vice president and head of Northwestern Mutual Real Estate, on why downtown Milwaukee can support the 308 high-end apartment units and 16 penthouse units the company is creating as part of its new, $100 million mixed-use tower near The Milwaukee Streetcar route.

Urban planner Peter Park
(September 2015) If The Milwaukee Streetcar project focuses on development, it could be a "significant catalyst, a game-changer, especially as it expands," nationally renowned urban planner Peter Park says.

Rare steakhouse in 833 building
(August 2015) A new steakhouse is opening along The Milwaukee Streetcar route, with its owner saying the restaurant's location is experiencing "a renaissance in new development."

Schlitz Park
(August 2015) The Milwaukee Streetcar is being cited as a factor encouraging expansion of the Schlitz Park office complex.  Schlitz Park is home to more than 4,200 employees at major Milwaukee organizations including ManpowerGroup, US Bank, UMB Fund Services, HSA Bank, Aurora Health Care and others.  And, it may soon be the focus of an additional $20 million in investment and upgrades as well as future new office space, an apartment complex and business-friendly hotel.  “With renovated buildings, green space and an expanded array of lifestyle amenities that appeal to the needs of today’s young professional workforce, incredible momentum is underway at Schlitz Park.  We’ve created a vibrant office community successfully competing in the new economy,” developer Gary Grunau said in the announcement.  “Further, the arena development, streetcar construction and strong adjacent apartment market adds to the vibrancy of Schlitz Park and our excitement about the future possibilities.” 

Mandel Group apartment high rise
(July 2015) Real estate development firm Mandel Group, Inc. is advancing detailed plans for the lake bluff property it owns at the corner of North Prospect and East Ogden Avenues. The residential development, a new 20+ story luxury apartment tower, is located at the northern end of The Milwaukee Streetcar's Phase 1 route. The heavily amenitized tower will have approximately 240 units designed to appeal primarily to empty nesters and others seeking larger floorplans and refined finishes. "We think our future residents will love the opportunity to board the streetcar at their front door and easily travel throughout the downtown for shopping, work, restaurants, theater, attractions and as an easy link to the Intermodal station," said Mandel Group's Chief Operating Officer Robert Monnat. "We're seeing a gradual but consistent reduction in the number of cars our downtown residents own, which can be attributed to their desire to use alternate modes of transportation. Having the downtown streetcar operational will enhance this trend and simply make it more fun to get around downtown Milwaukee to everyday destinations."

Wisconsin Avenue Development Corp.
(June 2015) "That streetcar line (extension on 4th Street), if it moves forward, would spur a project on the city-owned parking lot at Fourth Street and Wisconsin Avenue, the site of numerous past failed projects. Once that streetcar extension is ready to go, you watch every developer in town want to put up a development at Fourth and Wisconsin,” Wisconsin Avenue Development Corp. President Steve Chernof predicted.

Mackie Building redevelopment
(June 2015) Milwaukee developer Joshua Jeffers is looking to build apartments in the historic Mackie Building at North Broadway and East Michigan Street, directly on the streetcar route. According to the Milwaukee Business Journal, "Jeffers plans to start construction this fall to build 25 high-end apartments in the mostly vacant office space…The project will restore the building's exterior and preserve its Grain Exchange Room." The estimated $12.4 million project also includes exterior restoration. "Another huge part of all of this is the streetcar," Jeffers said. Jeffers purchased the building in late 2014.

Report touts streetcar as helping address connectivity 
(May 2015) Milwaukee Downtown Business Improvement District No. 21 and the Greater Milwaukee Committee commissioned a report measuring downtown Milwaukee’s entertainment and hospitality offerings.  According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Due to the large physical area taken up by downtown, Milwaukee's nodes of dining and nightlife activity are fairly spread out and there is no easy way to experience them all without using a car," it said.  The recently approved downtown streetcar "is a great start" to solving that problem, the report said.”  Hunden Strategic Partners, Chicago, conducted the analysis. 

Walker's Point apartment community                                  
(April 2015) A developer planning an upscale apartment community in the Walker’s Point neighborhood recently cited the location’s proximity near a possible future streetcar extension as one of the project’s deciding factors.  In an article on, one of the development partners, Tim Gokhman, said “Regarding the streetcar, I was talking about the expansion loop – it literally circles around this project. I know it’s years out, and I’m sure faces obstacles, but the potential itself is exciting. And consistent with our development philosophy of urban density, walkability, and a lesser reliance on cars in general. This project has 100 parking spaces for 120 units, so we’re actually building to our principles.”

Developer Barry Mandel
(January 2015) "It acts as a beacon to those who look at Milwaukee, that they have joined the ranks of other progressive cities throughout the nation," Mandel said. "That, in fact, will help retain and attract intellectual capital, the scale­up of businesses, possibly the attraction of other businesses."

Potential Johnson Controls HQ
(January 2015) “As we are evaluating options, a key consideration is a vibrant downtown community with convenient transportation and easy access to our facilities. As a result we also have a keen interest in the downtown streetcar project and are monitoring that situation closely.” –Johnson Controls

The Couture
(December 2014) “(the Couture building, as currently designed,) cannot be built without the streetcar component” –Rick Barrett, Couture Developer



The City of Milwaukee's official streetcar project website.