Its all about the streetscaping
I have a theory I've been pondering about for the past couple months. Is the value and vitality of Milwaukee's commercial business areas tied to the number of pot holes in the street?
Nice roads = good business = higher taxes
Or is it the other way around:
Poor businesses = lower taxes = poor roads
As I drive around Milwaukee, there is a big mix. A few areas I've noticed:
S. 27th street: Lots of business, crappy roads = Everything seems low-end. I'm not staying here any longer than it takes to get into Walmart, grab my mega size shopping and get out.
Brown Deer Road: Scattered Businesses (some of which are nice, some not so much), poor landscape maintenance = I don't want to leave my car alone sometimes, much less walk around from one shop to the next
N 27th Street (SoHi): Old, beat up road, little/no landscaping = Business is low-end and struggling.
Villard Ave: Roads are OK, landscaping is fairly well maintained but needs a bit of TLC = Consistent business to support the neighborhood.
Then I noticed Silver Spring Road heading West from I-43:
- Pre Glendale: Nice streets, great landscaping = This is taking great advantage of Bayshore Mall, and feels like a nice area. New business are popping up as you get closer to Glendale.
- Glendale: Beautiful streetscaping and brand new streets = New businesses, new development, new public buildings
- 27th Street to Sherman Boulevard: Suddenly Glendale ends and the grass is dead, hasn't been cut, streetpoles are old = Closed up buildings... Eesh, get me out of here!
- Sherman to about 50th: New streets, and the landscape is pretty well maintained = Ahh, back in a nice area! No real business here though due the military base and great park.
- 60th Street: Landscaping is ignored again = Why is this - just as the businesses start again, the streetscape looks like ignored concrete. Once again, the businesses look low end.
So, my theory is: follow the city's street plans to build your business. As I write this, a corner I've mentioned before (76th & Good Hope) is under heavy construction. That intersection has some great benefits, but isn't a place you'll get many people to stop and shop. It just looks battered and run down. Even after the new Andy's and Starbucks (those buildings look great, but somehow you don't notice because the area around it doesn't). We'll see how the new Streetscape looks and if my theory holds water in a few months. There is still some open space for business, so now may be a good time to prepare your plans!
Maybe this is where the City should put its seed money while trying to improve some of the targeted districts. I remember seeing plans for the new streetscape in the SoHi district (N 27th Street), but they never happened. I wonder how much more improvement we would have seen there over the past 2 years with a brand new street?