Vel R. Phillips Plaza groundbreaking

Mayor Cavalier Johnson and City of Milwaukee officials on Friday, July 21 celebrated the groundbreaking of a new public plaza to be named in honor of Vel R. Phillips.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson signed a resolution on Monday, April 24 approving the funding for the construction.

The future Vel R. Phillips Plaza (renderings below) will be situated south of Wisconsin Avenue between North 5th Street and North Vel R. Phillips Avenue. 

The Milwaukee Common Council unanimously approved an amendment to Tax Incremental District (TID) #48 (Park East Corridor Redevelopment) that will provide $15,750,000 for the construction of the approximately 30,000 square foot plaza, a 2,900 square foot food/beverage retail space, a manicured garden, a flex space that could host farmers markets, food trucks or other community events, an informational kiosk, public art installations, and a station to accommodate Milwaukee County’s Bus-Rapid Transit Line. 

The financing package also includes $4.35 million for infrastructure and lighting improvements in the area and $500,000 for the Commercial Revitalization Grant Program that provides financial assistance to commercial property owners for building renovations and improvements.

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Rendering: Vel R. Phillips Plaza, Milwaukee

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Vel R. Phillips was both the first African American and first woman elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, the first female judge in Milwaukee County, and the first black judge in the State of Wisconsin. She was the first woman to hold the office of Secretary of State in Wisconsin and the first African American to win a statewide election. Up until her passing in April 2018, Phillips was an active leader in pushing for social justice, education and equal opportunities for minorities in Milwaukee.