A public river walk coming to Milwaukee’s Harbor District now includes a larger outdoor plaza than initially planned — and a higher cost.
The walkway will run from the end of East Greenfield Avenue up the harbor front and Kinnickinnic River to South Kinnickinnic Avenue. That’s next to Komatsu Mining Corp.’s new offices and factory.
The city typically pays around 70% of a river walk’s costs, with the rest paid by the adjacent property owner. The public funds for this segment will come largely from property tax revenue generated by the Komatsu development.
The river walk cost was initially estimated at $11.4 million. That’s increased to $14.5 million because of some additional items, including a building with restrooms on that outdoor plaza.
That’s according to information presented Thursday to the city Redevelopment Authority board.
Harbor View Plaza expansion to feature more amenities
The building planned for the plaza could include space to sell food items, said Tom Rogers, urban design and waterfront studio leader at SmithGroup, a design firm hired by the authority to create plans for the river walk.
“We’re really excited about this as a space,” Smith told board members.
It will greatly expand Harbor View Plaza, a public space at the end of Greenfield Avenue, with room for up to 150 people, he said.
The new plaza will provide a better connection to Harbor View Plaza’s kayak dock, while also adding a dock for boats, including those offering lake and harbor tours.
The plaza also will feature a deck that extends over the water and places to sit.
River walk to include a pedestrian bridge
Other new features for the river walk include a pedestrian bridge in an area dubbed The Node, where the dock wall will be removed to allow the river to create a natural inlet.
The Node will have native plantings, fish and wildlife habitats and a fully accessible way for people to touch the water.
The 3,400-foot walkway also will feature additional fish and wildlife habitats and 250 newly planted trees — creating a park-like atmosphere.
Construction is to begin around April, and will take about a year to complete, said Adam Hammen, a SmithGroup engineer.
The authority board voted unanimously to approve a change in the contract with SmithGroup to increase its fee by $382,000 to cover the additional work added with the plaza’s building, The Node’s bridge and other new features.
Those new features were added in part as a reaction to feedback from Harbor District residents and other members of the public, Rogers said.
Board members praised the revised plan.
“The design looks great,” said board member Bill Schwartz.
It is among five public Harbor District walkways that are to be built over roughly the next two years on the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic rivers and the harbor itself.