Plan Commission approves general Bucks arena development plans; but new parking problems arise

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Bucks team officials said they are working to address concerns about parking around their proposed downtown arena -- which could temporarily force fans to park further away and take shuttles.

City of Milwaukee Plan Commission

The city's Plan Commission gave conditional approval to the Bucks' general development plans for land in the Park East Corridor on Monday, November 23rd. No commissioner voted against the proposal.

Yet business owners and the city alderman who represents the area around the arena voiced concerns about parking. The Bucks have proposed tearing down the Highland Avenue garage to make way for their entertainment district east of the arena before a replacement garage three blocks away would be finished.

BMO Harris Bradley Center

"Figure that one out," complained Ald. Bob Bauman. "It`s just plain logical that you build the new one first before you tear down the old one. You don`t tear down the old one before you build the new one."

Peter Feigin, the Bucks' president, called Bauman's concerns "rather dramatic." Team officials countered with a warning of their own: A delay in tearing down the garage would mean the entertainment district wouldn't be ready to open along with the arena in 2018.

City of Milwaukee parking garage

Milwaukee Bucks President Peter Feigin

"We think there are grave ramifications," Feigin said. "How do we build a neighborhood that we can build in one big swoop, as opposed to having incremental construction over a period of years?

The Bucks' project architect said it could be potentially unsafe to have construction ongoing across from the arena's main entrance on Fourth Street.

Feigin said team officials are already considering options for temporarily fan parking -- which include using off-site surface lots and utilizing shuttle buses -- even if that doesn't address the concerns of other people who use the existing garage.

"It`s one major puzzle of hundreds and hundreds of (parking) spots," Feigin said.

City of Milwaukee parking garage

Bucks officials aiming to replace the aging BMO Harris Bradley Center say they want the Milwaukee Common Council to approve the general development plan before they unveil specific design elements. The designs will also require regulatory approval.

For now, plans for the buildings in the arena district are intentionally vague. For example, the two buildings that could replace the Bradley Center could be between four and 20 stories tall.

Team officials said the Bucks' new practice facility would be first to open, northwest of the proposed new arena. That could happen within 24 months, pending approval, Feigin said.

Next would be the new parking garage, directly north of the proposed arena along West Juneau Avenue.

The arena and entertainment district as proposed would open in 2018, team officials have said.

The other four blocks of Park East Land in the arena district would be left undeveloped initially. That includes two surface parking lots across West Juneau Avenue from the new arena, and the two blocks where the Bradley Center now sits.