A Water Hub Since the City's Early Days
Water and Walker’s Point have been synonymous since the middle of the 19th century. When George Walker, one of Milwaukee’s three founders, arrived in the area in 1834, he chose a location at the confluence of three rivers and a harbor on Lake Michigan. The neighborhood was soon home to the city’s first lager brewery, and its industrial base grew from there. But by the end of the 20th century, shifts in focus of the city’s economy had led Walker’s Point to become a blighted area rife with vacant buildings.
Revitalizing a Blighted Neighborhood
Recognizing the neighborhood’s potential to thrive again, state and local partners began working together to revitalize Walker’s Point and turn it into a hub for the 21st century water technology sector. The Global Water Center opened in 2013; in addition to office space for water sector companies, the building houses collaborative laboratory and academic research space, accelerator programs for water technology startups, and headquarters of The Water Council, an industry organization that is a key player in the water sector’s resurgence in Milwaukee. A $1 million Idle Industrial Site Redevelopment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation will help defray the costs of environmental remediation for the former railyard and truck terminal; this investment is complemented by Tax Incremental Financing resources from the City of Milwaukee, including $6.2 million in infrastructure expenditures and another $5 million to support job creation. The Reed Street Yards development is ultimately expected to house more than 1 million square feet of office space for water sector companies.