By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 31, 2023 at 8:50 AM

With a new plaza finally moving forward on the long-dormant, high-profile site along West Wisconsin Avenue, between Vel R. Phillips Avenue and 5th Street, The Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee has issued an updated Request for Proposals for an adjacent 55,626-square-foot parcel.

A rendering of the plaza with the development seen behind it. (RENDERING: City of Milwaukee)

The RFP is, RACM says, "an unprecedented transit-oriented development opportunity," on a chunk of land that has served only as surface parking since multiple buildings, including the Randolph and Maryland Hotels, were razed in the mid-1980s.

The site sits directly across the street from the convention center, the Hilton City Center Hotel and Hub 640 building, which is the future site of a new Kohl's department store and Fiserv corporate headquarters.

"This RACM-owned parcel on West Wisconsin Avenue presents one of the most unique transit-oriented development opportunities in the Midwest," notes the RFP.

"This high-visibility, high-traffic site is situated directly across the street from the Baird Center, Wisconsin’s largest convention center currently undergoing a major expansion that opens in 2024. The site is nearby several catalytic locations, including Fiserv Forum and the Deer District, Milwaukee Tool’s new Downtown office location, Marquette University’s campus and more."

Next to the site is the recently approved 30,000-square-foot Vel Phillips Plaza, which will include a 2,900-square-foot food/beverage retail space; a manicured garden; a flexible space that could host farmers markets, food trucks or other community events; an informational kiosk; public art installations; and a Connect Bus Rapid Transit station.

The plaza is expected to be open by next year.

RACM has issued previous RFPs and considered previous proposals for the site, including extending The Hop streetcar to a station there, but nothing has gotten traction.

The RFP – which is a rolling one, which will accept proposals on a continuous basis until a suitable one is received – notes that the plaza will include, "a future stop for Milwaukee’s streetcar system The Hop."

Let's hope something will finally happen on this open wound in the heart of Downtown.

You can find the RPF here.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.