Riverworks Newsletter - November 2020 Edition



Riverworks Newsletter - November 2020


Greeting Friends and Neighbors:


As we deal with the current COVID and economic conditions nationally and locally; the Riverworks continues to support the growth and diversity of our residential and business communities. We will continue to advocate for better services and funding from City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee Police, Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin to help improve conditions in our area. This area was come a long ways but we have a lot more to do and we have great potential to do even more.


The retail corridor along Capitol Drive has held its own and the Riverworks BID is aggressively working with real estate brokers, developers and the City of Milwaukee to curb off any farther erosion of our manufacturing, service and retail base. We have some development tools and methods to assistance in redeveloping some of the area underused sites for new development opportunities. The BID continues to provide façade grants and other supportive services to area businesses.


I am very confident in the leadership and vision of the Riverworks Development Corporation, Riverworks BID and the Harambee NID as we all continue to work together to keep this area vibrant and strong. I still believe that the Riverworks area is one of the best areas in the City of Milwaukee to operate and own a business and to live. The area has so much to offer its neighbors!


Continue to be safe and stay healthy,


Darryl Johnson

Executive Director






Extraordinary Care from the Financial Clinic

The City of Milwaukee's Financial Navigators are Here to Help!


During difficult times, managing your money can feel extra stressful. The City of Milwaukee's Financial Navigators are here to help! Trained Financial Navigators can provide financial resources to residents impacted by COVID and unexpected financial setbacks. Financial Navigators are able to identify next steps to resolve financial issues and connect you to resources remotely at NO COST.


Riverworks Financial Clinic is the hub for the Financial Navigators and we are available to assist you with figuring out how to talk to your credit card creditors and student loan companies, connect with mortgage relief and renters income resources, obtain your IRS stimulus check, manage your expenses, and more.


It has never been more important to get in control of your finances. Helping residents navigate the financial impact of COVID through the Financial Navigator Program initiative is a critical part of the City of Milwaukee's emergency response. Make an appointment today to start managing your money and get connected to other resources.


To sign up for your session with a Financial Navigator, you’ll need submit an interest form here or call the Financial Navigator message center at 414-882-7440. Our hours of operation are Monday - Friday from 10:00am - 7:00pm and Saturdays from 9:00am - 1:00pm.



Plan for The CONNECTOR Building

Real Estate Development

A Sneak Peak at the Plan: The CONNECTOR Building


Riverworks' newest real estate endeavor will renovate a 2,500 square-foot historic auto shop on Richard Street and Keefe Avenue at the head of the Beerline Trail. The new space will feature:


- A small indoor wellness center and café: Center Street Wellness


- A community space for events and meetings


- The outdoor Connector Yard with seating, a firepit, a cyclist rest area, and a 4 story overlook tower. 


Riverworks is working with SPS Architects, RA Smith, and JCS Construction to complete the first phase of demolition in December 2020. We plan for this multi-use facility to open to the public in the Summer of 2021 and anticipate the project will bring value and a revitalized energy to the Harambee neighborhoodClick for more information.



Ruth, Karen & Meg at the Riverwest Farmers Market
Martice from Scales Family Farm displaying products

Neighborhood News

Community Engagement Through a Pandemic


COVID has taken a toll on all of us.   Some folks in the community are more adversely affected due to health factors, occupation, or even what mode of transportation they use.   With the generosity of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Data You Can Use awarded agencies working in specific neighborhoods the chance to dig deeper into the data surrounding COVID, its effects, and residents’ thoughts.   Riverworks works in both Harambee and Riverwest, so we hosted two separate Data Chats.  Doing a general call out for participants through our networks, we had a diverse representation from both Harambee and Riverwest.   All participants received a $50 VISA Gift Card for their time.  The data is available for viewing.  Please contact Ruth Weill, Community Engagement Coordinator, at 414-906-9650 for more information.

The Riverwest Farmer’s Market's last day was on October 25 for the 2020 season.   COVID created many challenges which, in turn, changed the look and process a bit this year. Needing to spread out, the location moved to the 2700 block of N Pierce Street.  The block sits on the western border of Riverwest Elementary School between Center and Hadley. With extra wide sidewalks, houses only on one side, and a playground next door, it was the logical location.  Over 20 local vendors sold their goods each week and several hundred customers attended daily - it kept the coordinators Ruth Weill and Karen Diaz quite busy.   The market also participated in the Market Match program, funded by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, which provided an up to $20 match in a shopper’s EBT (food stamps) per day for fresh fruit and vegetables.   Several vendors reported high sales this season and were satisfied with the changes. Shoppers enjoyed the new location and mentioned that it felt safer and more open. Nobody knows what and where we will be with the pandemic next spring, so keep an eye out for details for the 2021 season.



Arts, Culture, Creative Placemaking

Announcing the Beerline Trail Equitable Implementation Plan


Riverworks is happy to announce the Beerline Trail Equitable Implementation Plan - the guiding document for the Beerline linear park development - received the 2020 Planning Excellence award from the American Planning Association Wisconsin chapter. 

Of the award, the jury commented: “The emphasis on equity and ensuring that residents and business owners are front and center is vital to the successful implementation of this project. "Planning fatigue" (which is REAL!) was mentioned and I'm happy that partners on this project took that into consideration by making this an actionable plan for community members to start tackling on day one. The partnership with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy is also notable, ensuring that the Beerline Trail will link to the larger regional trail system. I'm also impressed by the amount of funding that has been committed to implementing priorities.”

We are extremely grateful for this recognition and look forward to carrying out this plan with both the Harambee and Riverwest communities. 

You can see the Executive Summary of the plan here 


The Buzz in THE VIBE

Thanks for the good times! A transition to expand the Financial Clinic.


It is with a heavy heart that we announce the closure of THE VIBE co-working office space. Effective November 1, 2020, THE VIBE space on Holton and Concordia began construction to expand Riverworks' Financial Clinic.


In the early months of 2020, THE VIBE was starting to grow rapidly - with memberships on the rise and large numbers of business events each month. However, when COVID hit in March, it changed everything. Even as businesses started to open up again, and we were able to open the doors for restricted access, THE VIBE was unable to host meetings or events and struggled to stay afloat. Although we are sad to say goodbye to this co-working and event space, we will continue to offer services for businesses and entrepreneurs to survive and thrive through these unprecedented times.


On a positive note, the timing could not have worked out better. As our Financial Clinic is rapidly expanding its services for individuals who are facing economic crises, there is an urgent need for more staff and more office space. What was previously THE VIBE will now serve as the home to our Financial Clinic team to provide financial relief, connect residents to resources, offer free tax preparation through the VITA program, and much more.


Please join us in bidding a sincere farewell to THE VIBE!



Riverworks' Financial Clinic Resource Fair - October 11, 2020

Workforce Development in Action

Assisting on the Path to Professional Aspirations


Though times are tough, we are too. The Workforce Development department has been intensifying (virtual) outreach, communication and dedication to our participants so they can reach their education, employment and career goals.


The Workforce Development department has been combating today’s challenging times by safely participating in drive-thru job fairs, building and strengthening our partnerships throughout Milwaukee, and continuing to provide our participants with individualized coaching strategies to meet their professional aspirations.


Whether you are seeking employment, looking to switch careers, or are unsure of where to start, the Riverworks' Workforce Development department can provide you with essential coaching to get you on the right path!



BID #25: Milwaukee's Creative District


The Riverworks BID #25 has worked to spearhead area beautification and safety for the past 20 years; however due to COVID, priorities for the year adjusted to ensure our area businesses were supported. Today, we are launching a new video marketing campaign to connect our community to our local businesses and establish new networks for area growth. Videos will be launched every Tuesday for the next 30 weeks. More information can be found here.


With this new marketing initiative, and in an effort to ensure our area businesses, property owners and developers are connected to resources, we are officially launching a new Riverworks BID website. The site is intended to be a one-stop-shop for resources, marketing initiatives, and a new up-to-date business directory.



Harambee NID #7


The Harambee NID #7 is funded by a special assessment on the property tax bill of all residential properties within the boundaries of the NID. The assessment rate is $50 per unit with $500 maximum for any parcel. The boundaries of the NID are Holton Street to the east, Center Street to the south, Capitol Drive to the north and the freeway to the west. 


Since 2018 there have been 37 roof repairs with 14 completed in 2020.   The board and the staff are working diligently to continue the mission of assisting homeowners repair their homes while protecting the neighborhood.






Shout Out to Our Supporters!

Thank you all for your ongoing support and extra help during this important time!



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