GRAEF Anchors The Avenue Downtown Milwaukee Redevelopment GRAEF Moves Milwaukee Headquarters to The Avenue
Downtown Milwaukee turned a corner, appropriately right at its most storied intersection: 3rd and Wisconsin. The site is experiencing its second reincarnation as new plans were unveiled to transform the former Shops of the Grand Avenue into an impressive array of reimagined spaces from food hall to dynamic new and refurbished offices to unique apartments to engaging new retail concepts. It will be known simply and elegantly as The Avenue, boldly assuming the mantle of its central location.
GRAEF Leads Office Development
The complete reimagining of the former mall received a huge boost with GRAEF’s commitment to relocate its office to The Avenue. Much of the facility’s historic space will transition to new offices designed to facilitate the exchange of goods, services, ideas and deal making in the heart of the region’s commercial hub.
GRAEF, a Milwaukee-based national engineering, planning and design firm, will occupy nearly 35,000 square feet, which is more than 60 percent of The Avenue’s third floor space. The Avenue will provide GRAEF with the opportunity to put its commitment to sustainability and creation of a top-notch built environment into practice in its own workspace.
GRAEF also sees its space at The Avenue as an opportunity for increased engagement with its 170 Milwaukee-based employees, from creative, forward-thinking workspaces to unparalleled downtown amenities including access to a state-of-the-art fitness center, a 100-seat innovation event center, a tenant lounge, parking and quick access to a world-class food hall.
“We are really pumped up to be relocating to Westown and The Avenue, acting as a further catalyst to the revitalization in Milwaukee’s historic center,” said GRAEF president and CEO John Kissinger. “Being a part of The Avenue, and near other exciting developments including the Warner Grand Theater renovation and Fiserv Forum and its adjacent entertainment district, sealed our relocation decision. As engineers, planners, technicians and designers, we see not only what is, but have a vision for what will be, and our vision has taken us downtown to The Avenue.”
Other downtown businesses and organizations are exploring options to locate to The Avenue’s refurbished historic offices in the Matthews Building and other intriguing pockets.
3rd Street Market Hall
At its heart will be 3rd Street Market Hall, a meandering street level 35,000-square-foot food hall the likes of which the region has yet to experience. Spearheaded by well-known Milwaukee restaurateur, Omar Shaikh, the food hall will feature more than 20 vendors reflecting the cultural and ethnic diversity of the region. It will contribute to Milwaukee’s growing reputation for innovative cooking and dining experiences.
“This is much more than just another food hall,” said Shaikh. “And I’m incredibly grateful to the owners for having the patience and guts to do this in a way deserving of this historic location.”
3rd Street Market Hall will include a special event space that will play host to culinary experimentation as well as a platform for Milwaukee’s new and upcoming talent.
“The response from the restaurant community has been incredible,” said Shaikh. “We already have letters of intent for 75 percent of the locations within the space and they’re all chomping at the bit to be a part of what will become Milwaukee’s most eclectic and electric scene.”
Six of the initial vendors were unveiled:
- Stone Creek. A pioneer craft coffee roaster founded in 1993 in Milwaukee that employs an army of coffee geeks committed to building lasting relationships with its producer-partners around the world, an ambition summarized in its “Farm to Cup” ethos.
- Milk Can. A start up concept by Milwaukee chef Kurt Fogle and the team behind Muskego’s Bass Bay Brewhouse. With Wisconsin roots the partners are linked by a common passion: Hometown classics—like burgers, cheese curds & custard reimagined and made better from scratch.
- Funky Fresh. Funky Fresh Spring Rolls are handcrafted spring rolls made with fresh and local (when available) ingredients and never deep fried but grilled in healthier oils. Founder Trueman McGee strives to bring not only delicious meals but nutritious options to his customers.
- Donut Monster. Chef Jackie Woods along with his wife Sara will open a permanent Donut Monster pop-up at 3rd Street Market Hall. Made daily from scratch with the best available ingredients, these donuts are beloved for their natural tastes of quality fruit in pursuit of the elusive “guiltless” treat.
Plankinton Clover Apartments
The Avenue’s premiere contribution to downtown living is the Plankinton Clover. It features 52 apartment units ranging in size from studios to two bedrooms. As the city’s first “work/live” units, the apartments make novel use of their historic Plankinton Arcade environment by introducing storefronts and floor to ceiling windows overlooking W. Wisconsin Ave, N. Plankinton Ave., and N. 2nd St. Most units have entrances from common corridors that connect to the second floor atrium, essentially turning the atrium into a public street in the middle of a neighborhood. Plankinton Clover amenities include the Avenue’s dog wellness area, fitness center, a tenant lounge, a private movie theater, access to the innovation convention center as well as bicycle storage and premier parking.
“Look at old photos of the Plankinton Arcade and you’ll be struck by the feel of a quaint urban neighborhood,” said Tony Janowiec, co-owner of The Avenue. “The Clover recaptures that sense while providing residents with ideal work/live opportunities as well as highly-connected interim living options for corporate employers.”
Taken together with all the dynamic developments in Westown like the Buckler, the Century Building, the MSO redevelopment of the Warner Theatre as well as the opening of Fiserv Forum, the area is poised to stoke the city’s ever-expanding centers of vibrancy.
“As others have correctly noted, a vibrant downtown must have spaces for people of different backgrounds and cultures to interact and we take our role in that extremely seriously,” added Josh Krsnak, Janowiec’s partner. “We understand that due to our unique locale as a crossroads, we have a responsibility not only to connect all the activity happening to our immediate north, south, east and west—but also to provide a place where everyone in our region feels at home.”
For more information, visit Avenuemke.com