Return to Case Study Briefs

Menomonee Valley Redevelopment and Community Park

Landscape Performance Benefits

Environmental

  • Increases developer yield (usable land) by 10 to 12% over conventional development by clustering development sites and consolidating stormwater management.
  • Eliminates need for irrigation by using drought-tolerant native plants.
  • Manages 100-year flood volumes for an over 100-acre basin while improving water quality.

Social

  • Creates public access to the Menomonee River and over 60 acres of park/open space in an area that had been off-limits to the public for over 50 years.
  • Catalyzed the use of the Menomonee River Valley as an outdoor science laboratory, which receives 10,000 student visits annually.
  • Added 3 pedestrian/bicycle bridges and 7 miles of regional bike and pedestrian trails, linking greater Milwaukee and neighborhoods to the park, river, and valley.

Economic

  • Increased development site property values by 1,400% between 2002 and 2009.
  • Created 2,000 new jobs by 2006, with 5,000 new jobs estimated to be created by 2015.
  • Generates over $1 million in annual City property tax revenues.

At a Glance

  • Designer

    Wenk Associates, Inc.

  • Project Type

    Industrial park
    Park/Open space
    Stormwater management facility

  • Former Land Use

    Brownfield

  • Location

    3301 W Canal Street
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53214

    Map it

  • Climate Zone

    Humid continental

  • Size

    140 acres

  • Budget

    $40 million for development sites and remediation, $9 million for stormwater park

  • Completion Date

    2006 (Phase I and II), construction ongoing

The Menomonee River Valley in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, was a former industrial area that had, by the early 1990s, had become blighted and abandoned. The master plan for its sweeping revitalization in the early 2000s created a centralized park and shared stormwater treatment area as the centerpiece of a 140-acre light industrial redevelopment. The park offers over 60 acres of recreational space with revitalized landscape and habitat along the Menomonee River. The shared stormwater facility results in a higher development yield for individual property owners, allowing the City to remain extremely competitive when attracting businesses to the Valley.

  • The 140-acre former brownfield was remediated as part of the valley’s redevelopment, reducing public health risks, protecting the river’s watershed, and making the site suitable for human use.
  • Over 3,000 ft of the riverbank will be stabilized and restored, leading to larger habitat areas and a cleaner, healthier Menomonee River.
  • Over 300,000 cu yds of contaminated debris and soil was managed on site to create historic glacial features and replicate native landscape communities of Southern Wisconsin.
  • About 50,000 cu yds of concrete (from demolition during the I-94 Interchange reconstruction) was crushed and recycled to create a stormwater infiltration gallery below the surface of treatment wetlands.
  • Local artists recycled glass from the Miller Brewing Company to create glass panels, which were incorporated into drainage outfall structures.
  • Picnic tables were built from wood salvaged from the former Milwaukee Stockyards; benches were made from excess sewer pipe that would have gone to a landfill.
  • Over 500 native trees were added to the site. 70% of the trees were planted by local student, community, and advocacy groups.

Challenge

Milwaukee’s Menomonee River Valley was decimated by economic recession; it went from a highly productive industrial center to a place in ruins. Because the site was within the 100-year floodplain, the soil would not likely support building loads. Because of its industrial past, severe health risks were present and significant environmental contamination existed on site. The City needed to address these serious environmental concerns while also creating jobs.

Solution

The project team developed a unique fill management program that remediated contamination on site and raised the development sites out of the floodplain. To address water quality, the plan created a park as the centerpiece of the new development to treat and manage stormwater runoff for the entire basin while providing the community with access to the river and use of nearly 60 acres of open space.

The park was constructed under financially challenging circumstances with zero capital from the City Parks Department. Grants and funders included the Wisconsin DNR, US EPA Great Lakes Initiative, Milwaukee Metro Sewerage District, and Menomonee Valley Business Partners.

By seeking “multiple-benefit” solutions, the City was able to combine several large infrastructure projects (environmental remediation, development site preparation, and Canal Street construction) and leverage costs in order to support projects that were mutually beneficial to the community and the environment: parks, open space, and environmental restoration.

Project Team

Landscape Architect: Wenk Associates, Inc.

Role of the Landscape Architect

The landscape architect led a multidisciplinary team of engineers, ecologists, and architects in the planning and design of the 140-acre park and industrial redevelopment.

Case Study Prepared By

This case study was produced in 2010 as part of the Landscape Architecture Foundation’s Landscape Performance Series pilot. LAF staff worked with representatives of firms to document the project and its environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Firm Liaison: Greg Dorolek, Principal, Wenk Associates
Firm Liaison: Amber Stevens, Marketing Director, Wenk Associates
September 2010

To cite:

Landscape Architecture Foundation. “Menomonee Valley Redevelopment and Community Park.” Landscape Performance Series. Landscape Architecture Foundation, 2010. https://doi.org/10.31353/cs1430

Topics

Land efficiency/preservation, Stormwater management, Water conservation, Recreational & social value, Educational value, Transportation, Property values, Job creation, Increased tax revenue, Trail, Reused/recycled materials, Bioretention, Native plants, Local materials, Revitalization, Placemaking

The LPS Case Study Briefs are produced by the Landscape Architecture Foundation (LAF), working in conjunction with designers and/or academic research teams to assess performance and document each project. LAF has no involvement in the design, construction, operation, or maintenance of the projects. See the Project Team tab for details. If you have questions or comments on the case study itself, contact us at (email hidden; JavaScript is required).

Help build the LPS: Find out how to submit a case study and other ways to contribute.