Will part of 4th Street be closed for public plaza near new Bucks arena? Aldermen table issue for now

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MILWAUKEE -- Officials now say the question of what to do with 4th Street in downtown Milwaukee won't be answered on Tuesday, September 22nd, as the Milwaukee Common Council takes up funding for the new Milwaukee Bucks arena. It was looking like a potential obstacle as aldermen work to approve nearly $50 million toward the proposed arena.

Under the original plan, the city would give up a block of 4th Street (between Highland and Juneau), and it would become part of a public plaza next to the new arena. But Milwaukee's The Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted last week to keep the street open -- a decision that has disappointed Bucks officials.

Proposed arena project in downtown Milwaukee

Proposed arena project in downtown Milwaukee

Now, we've learned that after some negotiating, this issue will wait while the Common Council takes up the financing plan for the new arena on Tuesday.

Major Goolsby's

Major Goolsby's

Traffic on 4th Street runs past Major Goolsby's, just south of the BMO Harris Bradley Center and the site of the proposed Milwaukee Bucks arena.

"We have a good following for Marquette and Bucks games in general," Marty Petricca, assistant manager at Major Goolsby's said.

Petricca worries closing 4th Street near the arena would limit the bar's visibility.

"That way, they have to go to 6th Street or 3rd Street and there`d be less traffic altogether," Petricca said.

4th Street

4th Street

Last week, Alderman Robert Bauman helped pass a motion in committee that would keep 4th Street as city property.

"My basic concern here is we`re being asked to vacate a piece of public infrastructure without any plan as to what`s gonna be done with it other than the general premise of 'trust us, we`re gonna do the right thing,'" Alderman Bauman said.

Bauman says after talking with team and city officials, the future of 4th Street won't come up for a vote on Tuesday.

Instead, aldermen will focus strictly on the city's $47 million share in the Bucks arena funding package.

Bucks arena funding plan

Bucks arena funding plan

Bauman says the 4th Street issue will come up again once Bucks officials have a chance to present a specific plan for the plaza.

"We`ll have an opportunity to sort of vet the various options, hear commentary from citizens, hear input from architects and design professionals in the city of Milwaukee and hopefully see the plan," Alderman Bauman said.

4th Street

4th Street

Under the proposal, the city would also give up a parking garage across 4th Street. It would be demolished to make room for the plaza.

The Milwaukee Common Council will eventually decide whether 4th Street runs through that plaza and is closed for game nights -- or whether 4th Street is closed to traffic permanently.

In addition to the 4th Street issue, the committee voted last week to allow the city to keep any money from a naming rights deal for a parking garage.

Additionally, as it stands, the agreement calls for 25 percent of the sports and entertainment district's new retail to be locally-owned.

The committee also passed a motion that called for 40 percent of the initial construction labor to be city residents -- with an emphasis on unemployed or under-employed residents.

The NBA has set a deadline for the Milwaukee Bucks to build a new home by the 2017 season. Last week, one of the Bucks' co-owners told the Milwaukee Business Journal they will likely miss the deadline by a year.

Mike Fascitelli said the Bucks would likely start construction in 2016 -- and open for the 2018-19 season. That comment had team officials back-tracking just hours later.

In a statement, team spokesman Jake Suski said:

"We're still targeting 2017-18 season. We know it's aggressive and challenging, with many variables outside of our control."

The Bucks would likely be granted a deadline extension by the NBA if the project is already underway.

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