- Milwaukee is getting ready to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention, and city officials are hoping that $5 billion of recent, current and planned construction will help the Wisconsin city shake its Rust Belt moniker, according to the Concord Monitor.
- Some of the projects contributing to the building boom in and around Milwaukee are the $524 million Milwaukee Bucks arena and the estimated $400 million in ancillary development that officials said the project will spark; BMO Harris Bank’s new $132 million tower; a $65 million mall conversion; a $124 million, 2.5-mile streetcar; the new $89 million home of the Milwaukee Symphony; a $334 million investment for the River 1 mixed-use project and Komatsu’s new headquarters; Northwestern Mutual's new $450 million, 32-story tower; a $122 million Couture luxury apartment high-rise; and several new hotels and other commercial and residential developments.
- A decline in manufacturing led to an increase in poverty and crime in many areas of Milwaukee in the 1980s, but a desire to live and work downtown has led to the urban renewal.
The Democratic convention will take place at the Bucks’ Fiserv Forum, which replaced the BMO Harris Bradley Center when it opened in 2018. When the convention comes to town, at least seven new hotels with 774 new rooms will be ready to accommodate delegates, helping the city reach a 16,000 hotel room commitment within a 40-minute drive of downtown. Those newest hotels will include the Cambria Hotel (132 rooms), the Drury Plaza Hotel (218 rooms), Holiday inn Express (115 rooms) and the renovated Milwaukee Athletic Club Hotel (96 rooms).
One unique project coming to downtown Milwaukee, although not scheduled to be complete in time to impress conventioneers, is the 21-story Ascent mixed-use residential tower, which will likely be the tallest mass timber structure in the Western Hemisphere. Developer New Land Enterprises will use cast-in-place concrete for the first five floors, as well as concrete shafts up and down. Crews would then top the concrete base with a 15-story exposed mass-timber system with steel connectors. Project architecture firm Korb + Associates said installation of the wood system could take as little as four months.
New Land has been working with the local fire department to address safety concerns about the building's mass timber construction, and, according to architect Jason Korb, the building can meet the fire rating of a concrete building.