Updated Menomonee Valley plan calls for rezoning for home décor district

Part of Milwaukee's Menomonee Valley would be rezoned to encourage more commercial uses under a proposal endorsed Tuesday, but one Common Council member said that area also should include supportive housing.

The council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted 5-0 to create an industrial-commercial zoning district on W. St. Paul Ave., between N. 9th and N. 25th streets. That proposal from Mayor Tom Barrett's administration needs full council approval.

The new zoning would allow office, commercial and business service uses that current industrial zoning doesn't permit. The new zoning would include retail and commercial uses to support a home décor district.

The district is among five potential major developments included in the city's updated comprehensive valley plan.

There are already three home décor companies on the street: Brass Light Gallery, 1101 W. St. Paul Ave.; House of Stone, 1701 W. St. Paul Ave.; and BBC Lighting, 2015 W. St. Paul Ave.

Also, other nonindustrial businesses are coming to the street, said Corey Zetts, executive director of Menomonee Valley Partners Inc., a nonprofit group supporting the zoning change.

Zetts said those new businesses include Plum Moving Media. That video production firm will move this year from the Historic Third Ward to a building being remodeled at 1418 W. St. Paul Ave., she said.

Also, investor John Shannon is renovating a building at 2045 W. St. Paul Ave. that he will soon market to businesses.

"We feel the buzz building for the street," Zetts told committee members.

However, Ald. Robert Bauman, whose district includes part of the rezoned street, said the new zoning was too restrictive by continuing to bar residential use.

Bauman said that portion of St. Paul Ave. has buildings that could be converted to transitional and supportive housing. Those uses are often for people who are homeless, or have mental illnesses and addictions.

He said the area is isolated from other residential neighborhoods, where proposals to create such housing often face opposition.

Zetts said valley businesses and property owners have repeatedly opposed creating any residential uses because they would conflict with industries that operate there.

Bauman, who voted to support the change, said possible future housing proposals for St. Paul Ave. could gain Common Council approval by amending the new zoning.

Click here to read this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.