It may well be Milwaukee’s best-kept secret, but that’s about to change.
The past 12-plus years have seen a cacophony of cranes, clouds of dust, heavy trucks moving rubble out and bringing concrete into the eight blocks bounded by Winnebago Street on the north, Highland Avenue on the south, I-43 to the west and Seventh Street to the east. A lot of activity to be sure, but if you were to ask the average Milwaukeean to explain what’s going on there, most would be hard-pressed to answer. Which is a bit of a shame, since over the course of that time, a remarkable transformation has taken place, turning a once abandoned manufacturing site, a remnant of the city’s brewing heritage, into one of Downtown Milwaukee’s next great neighborhoods.
Formerly the site of the Pabst Brewery, the 21-acre campus was destined to be reduced to rubble following Pabst’s abrupt shut down in 1996. Yet under the leadership of real estate developer and philanthropist Joseph J. Zilber, The Brewery District now stands as a shining example of historic preservation and adaptive reuse nationwide. “Thriving cities like Milwaukee are always reinventing themselves, and there is no better example of reinvention than The Brewery,” says Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “What was once a blue-ribbon beer production site is now a blue-ribbon, mixed-use development where people live, learn, create, have fun and conduct business. This is an important example of what’s possible when imagination and resources are brought together. That was Joe Zilber’s vision for The Brewery, and it’s a testament to his legacy.”