|From:||Lenny Siegel <email@example.com>|
|Date:||6 Aug 2007 22:40:17 -0000|
|Subject:||[CPEO-BIF] Milwaukee's (WI) 30th Street Corridor|
For a five-page, 4.4 MB formatted version of this document with photos,
go to http://www.cpeo.org/pubs/Milwaukee.doc.
Area-Wide Brownfields Redevelopment in Milwaukee, Wisconsin: The 30th Street Industrial Corridor Bob Hersh July, 2007Much of what passes for brownfields revitalization is focused on investment opportunities at single sites, with less attention given to the perplexing questions of how, and under what conditions, area-wide brownfield redevelopment strategies can deliver both community benefits and regional planning objectives. While the case has been made convincingly for area-wide brownfields redevelopment on both efficiency and equity grounds (for example, see Meyer 1998), an area-wide approach remains in most instances a policy goal, something of a phoenix in the brownfields bestiary, an imagined creature that revitalizes itself from ashes, but not something we're likely to come across.
The 30th Street industrial corridor in Milwaukee is perhaps an exception. City and state officials, local non-profits, and residents' associations are attempting to use brownfields cleanup and redevelopment as a core feature of an area-wide redevelopment initiative in one of the most disadvantaged sections of the city. Located in the north central part of Milwaukee, the corridor runs five miles from north to south and is roughly a quarter of a mile wide. It is bisected by rail lines, along which scores of factories were constructed at the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century.
For more than a hundred years, the corridor was an industrial powerhouse. It was home to such companies as Miller Brewery, Harley-Davidson, Wisconsin & Southern Railroad, and Tower Automotive, as well as smaller foundries and tanneries up and down the tracks. By the 1970s the corridor was a critical source of well paying jobs for Milwaukee's African-American community. Some 40 percent of the workers employed by corridor industries were residents of local neighborhoods.
However, deindustrialization has hit the corridor's residents very hard. After three decades of factory closings, unemployment among Milwaukee's prime-working-age black male population has grown from 15 percent in 1970 to over 40 percent in 2003 in some neighborhoods. As the employment base in the city eroded, Milwaukee's exurban counties have experienced almost all of the new net job growth in the region over the past decade. Yet inner city residents face what some have called a "spatial mismatch" in the labor market. Residential segregation patterns and an inadequate regional transportation system have limited inner city residents' access to the labor market in the greater Milwaukee region. Clearly, any solution to the problems of the corridor can only be achieved by understanding its place in relation to public infrastructure investment and to larger patterns of development. In the eleven neighborhoods of the corridor 35 percent of the residents live below the poverty line, and 97 percent are considered minority.
For the city, redeveloping the corridor is a high priority, but attracting investment and creating jobs there is complicated by toxic releases from past industrial activity. More than a hundred years of manufacturing along the corridor has led to widespread contamination. Through analysis of Sanborn maps and other historical documents, the city has identified more than 200 brownfield sites in the corridor, ranging from large industrial properties to parcels in residential neighborhoods of less than an acre (see below). According to city economic development officials, the possible presence of contamination has discouraged investment and economic development along the corridor.
Since 2004, federal, state, and local resources have been targeted at the corridor. Governor Jim Doyle made the cleanup of distressed urban neighborhoods a state priority and committed state agencies to collaborate with municipalities to identify and investigate contaminated properties. Working together in this initiative, Milwaukee's Redevelopment Authority and the state's Department of Natural Resources used EPA brownfields assessment funding to conduct phase I and phase II assessments at some 20 properties in the corridor, and they have recently obtained EPA funds to capitalize a revolving loan fund for cleanup in the corridor. More recently, the city designated the corridor a "greenlight district," a zone where the city makes available funds, such as tax-increment financing, to attract businesses, especially green industries, and to possibly fund job training. At this point, however, it is unclear what level of public funding is likely to be available and how the funding will be allocated.
In addition to public sector activities, a handful of large businesses in the corridor have voluntarily established a business improvement district (BID) to generate funds to improve lighting and signage and to assist business with security measures and graffiti removal. In addition to contamination, crime and the problems associated with abandoned buildings are seen as major obstacles to attracting investment to the area.
And finally, a non-profit organization, the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Corporation (ICC), has been working in the corridor since 1991. Initially it sought to retain businesses and stop job losses, but more recently it has acted to promote the area to potential businesses and investors, and it has been instrumental in encouraging local businesses to contribute resources to the BID.
The city of Milwaukee and its partner organizations have identified the following objectives for the corridor, which focus primarily on business and job creation:
• Attract / grow businesses • Expand 'green' industries, growing this sector of the economy • Identify resources for site preparation, business incentives • Incorporate job training incentives, additional workforce development • Improve infrastructure • Improve residential and commercial areas • Address blight, enhance appeal of corridor • Increase public safetyThe organizations involved in the 30th Street corridor recognize the complexity of the issues they face and the interrelated problems that underpin brownfields cleanup and redevelopment in the area: the critical lack of jobs, the social and spatial isolation of inner city residents, the absence of meaningful regional equity policies, the need for affordable housing, and the history of mistrust between local minority residents and the city.
As this policy experiment continues over the next few years the overarching question that many of us will consider is how the organizations involved can engage this broader set of needs? In doing so whose interests are likely to be prioritized? Will brownfields be seen primarily as commodified spaces where value is seen according to the properties' best and highest uses? Or, by contrast, will community-based organizations - such as the Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH), a local faith-based group with a "holy ground" campaign to reclaim sites - have the resources to contest this market-first characterization.
What level of public investment in the physical and social infrastructure of the corridor will be seen as necessary or justified? If public subsidies are provided to private developers, how can local residents make claims on the benefits that may follow from the projects, such as first-source hiring or affordable housing provision, without derailing the projects? Perhaps, even more challenging, how can community groups and local residents from different neighborhoods in the corridor find their respective voices and act upon common interests - assuming there are common interests.
Along the corridor, there is no homogenous "community." The northern part of the corridor, near the Tower Automotive site, contains mainly owner-occupied homes. In our site visit, we saw small, well-maintained workers' cottages. From our interviews, we learned that many of the owners of these small houses, largely African-American retirees who had worked at the Tower plant, are returning to the South or going into senior housing or passing on, and the houses are being bought up by speculators. In the central and southern portions of the corridor, some 80 percent of local residents are renters and the population is highly transient. Compared to the owner-occupied neighborhoods to the north, much of the property appears to be poorly maintained and vacant lots and abandoned housing are prevalent.
And finally, an area-wide framework for brownfields redevelopment, particularly for the 30th Street Corridor, assumes that the corridor, the city, and the suburban counties understand that real solutions to their problems must be achieved by understanding the connections of each with the larger region. Some would argue this means creating value in the corridor through regional rapid transit connections, as well as opening up suburban labor markets to local corridor residents. However, with the present climate in Southeast Wisconsin for reduced funding for public transit and massive public expansion for highways, this may be the toughest nut to crack.
******To promote more equitable area-wide redevelopment issues along the corridor, CPEO is planning to partner with local organizations in Milwaukee to organize a regional brownfields workshop. For more information, please contact Bob Hersh ar firstname.lastname@example.org or 508-831-5522.
-- Lenny Siegel Director, Center for Public Environmental Oversight c/o PSC, 278-A Hope St., Mountain View, CA 94041 Voice: 650/961-8918 or 650/969-1545 Fax: 650/961-8918 <email@example.com> http://www.cpeo.org _______________________________________________ Brownfields mailing list Brownfields@list.cpeo.org http://www.cpeo.org/mailman/listinfo/brownfields
Prev by Date: [CPEO-BIF] Baltimore housing|
Next by Date: [CPEO-BIF] Ft. Edward (NY) vapor intrusion
Prev by Thread: [CPEO-BIF] Baltimore housing|
Next by Thread: [CPEO-BIF] Ft. Edward (NY) vapor intrusion