Washington Park is a community that includes multiple development assets. Included in these valuable assets are the neighborhood's prospective commercial properties that are currently vacant.
Commercial properties line the three main east-west corridors in Washington Park. W. North Avenue is Washington Park's main retail and office corridor. Just three blocks south of W. North Avenue, the existing land-use pattern along W. Lisbon Avenue shows that the community has great potential in the current vacant commercial spaces. Between N. 39th Street and the railroad tracks, approximately three dozen parcels with frontage on W. Lisbon Avenue are vacant assets waiting to be discovered.
There are extreme conditions of a rising market for quality commercial space in Washington Park, both on W. Lisbon Avenue and W. North Avenue. Land originally cleared for the Park West Freeway project became a major redevelopment opportunity area that now supports W. North Avenue's revitalization. Both of these commercial corridors have great potential for retail space due to the passing traffic and transit stops. Concentrating commercial uses in these corridors and nodes along Washington Park's main arterial streets amounts to support from neighborhood residents as well as those who are from outside the area and traveling along the main arteries.
The recently revised City of Milwaukee zoning code (Sec. 295-601) states that the local business districts "provide a wide range of goods and services to a large consumer population coming from an extensive area" and that "motor-vehicle-related activities are of major significance." Nearly the entire available frontage on W. Lisbon Avenue is zoned for commercial service. The code states that the commercial service district "provides areas where businesses and personal service establishments can be accommodated..."It should be noted that within these districts, single-family and multi-family residential units are also permitted, creating variations of assets throughout the area.
The current vacant commercial spaces establish opportunities for strengthening and building upon the existing neighborhood assets. The prospect of developing these zones promotes investment and provides guidance for public and private development. By creating new business opportunities and enhancing existing recreational and cultural alternatives, the marketability of enhanced commercial nodes will promote continued economic stability and growth for the neighborhood.
The W. North Avenue corridor is an example for other areas of the neighborhood in how to generate new development. Large blocks of vacant land allowed a critical mass of new construction to change the direction of the market and provide more confidence to investors that new development would hold and accrue value. The vacancy along W. Lisbon Avenue is an opportunity just waiting to be explored.