Menomonee Valley Industrial Center (MVIC) and Community Park

3600 W. Canal Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"The Menomonee Valley Industrial Center project revitalized a site that had been in industrial use for more than 125 years and had lay abandoned for an additional 20 years. The project overcame a variety of challenges through the use of innovative solutions to reap environmental benefits that will be realized both on- and off site."

Gary Rozmus, P.E.
Vice President Gannett Fleming

1. Could you describe the use of innovative environmental solutions in the project?

Innovative solutions have been required from the beginning, since the MVIC site posed a number of complicated challenges to development. Since the land had been an intensively used manufacturing site for more than 125 years and lay abandoned for an additional 20, it posed risks that have often kept entities from acquiring and redeveloping similar sites. In addition, the MVIC site was also located within the 100-year floodplain, the soil would not likely support building loads without pile foundations, and the extent of liability for environmental contamination was unknown.

The City acquired the site knowing that success depended on cleaning up the existing contamination, bringing the development out of the flood plain, and restoring native flora and fauna to the banks of the Menomonee River. To create the "model Brownfields redevelopment", the City developed an aggressive redevelopment strategy, firmly rooted in three key tenants: (1) environmental protection; (2) economic development; and (3) social responsibility - all three of which were wound together in a sustainability theme. From an environmental perspective, this meant that the redevelopment had to be protective of human health and the environment and had to be done so in a sustainable manner. Aggressive targets of waste minimization/beneficial re-use, low carbon footprint, ecological/recreational/aesthetic enhancement, and overall environmental stewardship were established. These aggressive goals required true collaboration and innovation throughout all stages of planning, design, and construction. Innovations providing environmental solutions include the following:

  • Proactive involvement of (and true collaboration with) local and statewide environmental agencies and innovative thinking facilitated management of asbestos-containing building debris onsite, saving over $10 million in offsite management and disposal costs and lowering risks to the environment by circumventing the need to load and haul the debris to a local disposal facility (this would have required thousands of truckloads).

  • Use of excess highway excavation spoils, obtained through a creative agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), gave WisDOT a place to dispose of 700,000 cubic yards of fill that netted the MVIC project $1.5 million, raised the business park an average of 8 feet out of the 100-year floodplain, and increased the structural condition of the subsurface for development.

  • Development and implementation of a focused demolition program that thoroughly investigated and identified and safely and successfully abandoned/abated/removed miles of subsurface utilities and vaults and demolished and recycled thousands of cubic yards of building pads and foundations, thus providing an environmentally secure and structural sound footprint for redevelopment.

  • Onsite stabilization and final onsite placement of soils impacted with heavy metals. Beneficial re-use of onsite materials in the design and construction of a centralized subsurface stormwater reservoir/treatment area has saved precious development space, increased surface water runoff quality, created a recreational destination, and substantially increased natural resource value .

  • Integration of park-space features on the surface of the stormwater facility to enhance the recreational greenspace of the development, implementation of creative greenspace planning for improved local and regional access to the river and trails, and riverbank restoration efforts led to over $120 MM in recreational, ecological, and aesthetic resource value.

  • Establishment of a model developer agreement between the City and private developers to stipulate geotechnical and environmental responsibilities for all parties (establishing this agreement limits time spent on identical questions from numerous developers and provides additional assurance to the developer regarding existing site conditions).

Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee,
809 North Broadway, 2nd Floor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

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