top of page

Master Visioning Plan

Villard Avenue Community Design & Development Visioning Plan

Reimagine Villard Avenue

Our visioning plan encompasses a diverse range of projects aimed at revitalizing our district into a vibrant urban center. At the core of our vision lies our collaborative charrette, serving as a guiding light towards our shared goals. Among our key initiatives are transformative projects like the Rails with Trails endeavor, promoting connectivity and recreation, as well as our partnership with Milwaukee County Transit for an advanced Bus Rapid Transit system. Additionally, our recent success in securing federal grants propels forward our ambitious street redesign initiative, promising enhanced pedestrian experiences with raised crosswalks and dedicated bike lanes.

Villard Avenue Charette: Master Design & Visioning Plan

An integral piece in the development for the Revitalization of BID #19 is creating plans that we can champion and use to advocate for the resources needed to make them happen. Our top priority in all of our district plans includes the participation and public input provided by various stakeholders of Villard Avenue. For our design charrette, community input was gathered in a variety of ways. In February and March 2020, three visioning sessions were held to solicit feedback from stakeholders regarding the future of selected properties on Villard Avenue. The focus groups facilitated by Carolyn Esswein, and her team from UWM Community Design Solutions were designed to solicit feedback from stakeholders which included residents, business owners, investors, and partners.


The focus groups were held to re-envision key properties that were identified as a priority from the community visioning sessions that were held in May 2019, in addition to building owners who volunteered to participate. Three at the sites included the City-owned former Villard Library and theater Buildings as well as the redesign of the entire street. the other two sites were the former Marine and buildings and the two buildings on the corner of 38th and Villard.

During the focus groups that were held prior to the pandemic, UWM CDS asked those in attendance questions about new and/or expanded uses for the properties, and specific design ideas. On the first day of the virtual charette consisted of the architects presenting

their initial use and soliciting stakeholder input.

Afterword, the architectural firms refined their designs to reflect feedback and presented expected concepts on day 2. Final design renderings were produced and incorporated into this report below.


The focus groups coupled with an online survey in addition to the two virtual charrette planning days helped to better inform BID #19 as we plan a range of program options to further strengthen the corridor, as well as identify development ideas for properties that are currently vacant or vulnerable to change. The intent of the charrette process is to explore and evaluate development possibilities. It is not intended to imply that the ideas are guaranteed by developers, landowners, or the City of Milwaukee. Ultimately, the goal is to build on existing revitalization plans and create an up to date strategy for the revitalization of Villard Avenue.

$14.3 Million RAISE Grant Award

Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant

The City of Milwaukee recently received a $14.3 million Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant from the USDOT to make complete streets improvements on W. Villard Avenue from N. Sherman Boulevard to N. 20th Street (see map). Improvements will include raised bike lanes, raised intersections, curb extensions, bus bulbs, lighting & signal improvements, connections to existing & future trails, a pedestrian plaza, and other streetscaping enhancements.

Background: The project is a product of 15 years’ worth of engagement and visioning with the community. The project is part of the Villard BID’s Community Visioning Strategic Plan, the Villard Ave. Design Charette, and the City’s Connecting the Corridor Plan.

Funding: the RAISE program is a discretionary grant competition to fund projects that have a significant local or regional impact and achieve national goals.

Next Steps: tentative kickoff Spring 2024; construction Summer 2027


Other Projects


Enhancing Transit Throughout Milwaukee

The Villard BID is looking forward to the development of the CONNECT2 (BRT) service. This system will support a BRT stop within the Villard BID, providing alternative and accessible modes of transportation to the BID.

About the Project

"By bringing BRT to the 27th Street corridor, the Milwaukee North-South Transit Enhancement project will enhance service for the current MCTS PurpleLine riders and intersect with CONNECT (East-West BRT), the first route in the CONNECT BRT system. The project would increase frequency, add amenities and serve more community members along the 27th Street corridor.


This project is one way Milwaukee County is keeping the commitment to achieving racial equity and social justice made in 2019 when the County resolved to advocate for policies that improve health in communities of color. The project will improve access to convenient transportation for jobs, education, healthcare, grocery stores and other essential services—each with a positive impact to health and economic opportunity."

bottom of page