Historic MLK Drive named a “Main Street Community;” first in the city

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MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee neighborhood has been designated a "Wisconsin Main Street Community" -- the first in the city.

The new status is believed to help open doors by filling vacant buildings in the area on Martin Luther King Drive.

"Our end goal is to get to zero vacancy," Executive Director of the Historic King Drive Business Improvement District, Deshea Agee said.

Announced on Tuesday, August 22nd, the historic King Drive District is now the 34th "Main Street Community" in Wisconsin.

"This is a neighborhood where people live and shop," Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Along with Mayor Barrett, Agee says the Main Street stamp will give his group a leg up on attracting new businesses and expanding existing ones.

Joe Lawniczak, a downtown design specialist, says the King Drive district got time with a pool of "Main Street" experts.

"One of the more visual services that we provide for free is schematic renderings for property owners of what their building could look like," Lawniczak said. "We do not actually provide any money to our Main Street communities while we provide that technical service."

Their overarching goal is to help communities navigate revitalization projects.

"Since its inception, the Main Street program has created 2,600 net new businesses and over 14,000 net new jobs," Lisa Mauer from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. So help is coming.

"We get design work at no cost, we get the training of volunteers at no cost, we have market research," Agee said. But only after Agee and his improvement district passed a thorough vetting process.

Tuesday's announcement was made at Pete's Fruit Market which is highlighted as an example of how the neighborhood is attracting new businesses.