Vel R. Phillips Plaza will soon take over a parking lot along Wisconsin Avenue between 5th Street and Vel R. Phillips Avenue (formaly 4th Streer).
The mayor made it official by signing a resolution for the $15 million project Monday, April 24, 2023.
“I’m also excited to witness this project become a reality. It’s no secret that I’m a supporter of gathering spaces in the plaza,” Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.
Renderings show the new space will include a building for food and drink vendors, open space for possible farmers markets and food trucks and kiosks honoring the life and legacy of Phillips.
The late trailblazing activist broke countless barriers. She was Milwaukee’s first black Common Council member and the city’s first alderwoman.
“She’d be absolutely overjoyed about the whole thing,” her son Mike Phillips said Monday. “People relaxing, people enjoying hopefully a nice sunny day, that’ll be perfect.”
The plaza will take over the parking lot located across the street from the Wisconsin Center, which will be host to the 2024 Republican National Convention.
The city said construction on the plaza will begin this summer and is expected to wrap up next summer.
“The idea is to have this done before the RNC,” the mayor told WISN 12 News.
The announcement comes as Milwaukee Tool is finalizing its new downtown headquarters. Fiserv is also moving its headquarters nearby to the same building that will house a new Kohl’s store.
“It’s making it clear that our downtown is not just what happens east of the river and that there is so much that’s happening right here throughout all of downtown and connected to other parts of the city, as well,” said Lafayette Crump, Milwaukee’s City Development Commissioner.