Milwaukee interim plaza program, applications open

Milwaukee is rolling out a new interim plaza program, the city announced Tuesday.

According to the city, the program will "repurpose space that might otherwise be underutilized or unnecessary" for traffic – or unsafe for pedestrians. Such plazas "transform public right of way using low-cost materials."

"The interim plaza program builds on a legacy of DPW programs such as Active Streets for Business, special events permitting, and Paint the Pavement which view streets as places for people." Commissioner of Public Works Jerrel Kruschke said in a news release.

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The plazas are among the recommendations of a Gathering Places Feasibility Study; Mayor Cavalier Johnson started the initiative while serving on the Common Council. 

"Growing our network of gathering places is a goal of my administration," Johnson said in a news release. "We look forward to seeing what creative activation the community can offer in these spaces as we partner to make Milwaukee a more vibrant, attractive city." 

The program also creates guidelines and a permit system for plaza development. The Department of Public Works will process the annual permits, and is also offering a grant program – three grants of up to $30,000 – for select recipients to help with installation costs. The grant application opens March 21, and applications are due May 12; interim plazas must be installed by July 15. 

Other guidelines:

  • Anyone who is or represents an adjacent property owner(s), a nearby business or neighborhood improvement district, or a nearby city-recognized non-profit community-based organization can apply for an interim plaza permit.
  • Locations must be pre-approved by DPW before an application is started to ensure the location is appropriate for an interim plaza and that there is sufficient support for it from elected officials and neighbors.
  • Interim plazas are open to the public; businesses can still apply for an Active Streets for Business permit if they wish to extend their business premises into the public right of way.
  • Applicants agree to maintain and clean the interim plaza throughout the duration of the permit.
  • The interim plaza permit is an annual permit, running from April 1-March 31.
  • All permits will sunset on March 31 regardless of when the permittee entered the program.