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Dreamscape: Developers pitch ideas for Park East corridor

11/12/2012 - For the 10th annual BizTimes Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference, held recently at Potawatomi Bingo Casino, BizTimes conducted an experiment.

The event featured three prominent Milwaukee developers: Grucon Group president Gary Grunau; Mandel Group Inc. partner and chief operating officer Robert Monnat; and WiRED Properties founder Blair Williams.

BizTimes asked each of the developers to come up with their dream development projects for Milwaukee and present them at the conference, which was dubbed a "Developer's Fantasy Camp."

The developers each began with a blank canvas. No financial, political or logistical restrictions were
placed on their dream projects. None of the developers knew what the others would be proposing in their
dream projects.

Remarkably, each of the three developers independently proposed dream projects that focused on the
vacant space in the former Park East corridor, most of which remains undeveloped since the freeway
was torn down in 2004.

However, Grunau, Monnat and Williams each came up with very different visions for use of the land.
The site obviously remains a critical one in the eyes of many Milwaukee developers.

Williams, who specializes in urban infill projects, proposed a new mixed-use neighborhood for the
portion of the Park East corridor west of the Milwaukee River.

Monnat said Milwaukee should build several indoor sports venues on the west side of downtown,including some in the Park East corridor, to attract youth and amateur sports events and tournaments, which would fill hotel rooms and attract patrons to stores along West Wisconsin Avenue.

Grunau said the Park East corridor is the most logical place to build a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. He also proposed an innovative transformation for the Bradley Center to create a venue large enough for a full-size, indoor soccer field for community use and amateur competition.

Attendees of the conference were invited to vote on their favorite project. Monnat's project received the
most votes (84), followed by Grunau (68) and Williams (58).

The purpose of inviting the developers to present dream projects was to spark ideas and stimulate discussion about development ideas for Milwaukee.

Monday, November 12, 2012
By Andrew Weiland

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