HomeWorks: Bronzeville purchases City-owned foreclosure, reviving the decade-long vacancy as part of an artist housing cluster

Milwaukee, WI, March 17, 2022 — “Community” development is at an all time high in Milwaukee’s Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District. While this development spike has several stakeholders, critics, and polarizing advocates, its existence grants opportunity for communal investment that has not been seen since the disruption and displacement of the 1960’s. One group of creatives has taken on the idea of community development as a personal call to action, understanding the plight of gentrification with longing for urban life that respects new and existing neighbors. They call it HomeWorks: Bronzeville.

As of March 15th, 2022 the long anticipated acquisition of the final property in their piloted three building cluster has been achieved. The site was previously a City of Milwaukee foreclosure that has been vacant for over a decade. HomeWorks: Bronzeville can now begin its renovation of the south-facing duplex and quad demolition at 322-340 West Meinecke. The duplex will be rehabilitated into a two-story single, Artist Live-Work Space for Local and Visiting Artists (3-bedroom upper with lower level art studio) with initial tenant Alexia S. Brunson and CopyWrite Magazine. The quad will temporarily become Greenspace for year-round art installations and programs by Jazale’s Art Studio, MKE<->LAX, Food4All, I Am Milwaukee, and CopyWrite Magazine. 

“While others build a place and then find the people, we find the people and then build the place,” said Vedale Hill of Jazale’s Art Studio in discussing the need for this type of creative development.

HomeWorks: Bronzeville is a development initiative based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin that emphasizes community development in its physical, economic, and social form by way of authentic arts and culture applications. At the foundation of this initiative are co-owners Vedale Hill, Sara Daleiden, and Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, who are all active members of the arts community. Their collective experiences in navigating real estate for their professional, communal, and personal creative practices have helped them form an effective ideology on creative placemaking and developing community holistically.

HomeWorks: Bronzeville centralizes their development efforts on specific qualities that are meant to challenge traditional practices and emphasize niche community needs including:

  • Client Specific – artist and community cultivators who are also entrepreneurs
  • Creating Ownership – providing opportunities to add + retain economic, cultural, and influential value 
  • Stability – building directional infrastructure for communal longevity 
  • Reimagining Gentrification – by changing the “how” not the “who”
  • Narrative Shifting – focusing on ownership as a tool for stability and growth
  • Transferable value – facilitating experiences that elevate authentic community practices + interest via a creative economy
  • Retaining creative talent pool – through genuine opportunity and consistency for artists

“It’s crucial that our shared values and aspirations frame and guide this initiative. If goals and practices aren’t part of the process, they won’t be part of the product. It’s as simple as that.” – Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, I Am Milwaukee

Their collective ideology through real world experience of displacement, eventually led them to find a location in the heart of Bronzeville with a three building cluster that they will turn into the anchor home they all envision [located at the corner of W. Meinecke Ave & N. Vel R. Phillips Ave]. This will be a place that will hold all the programmatic elements of their respective organizations and businesses, residential property for artist housing, rental studios, and community space. As of 2018, HomeWorks: Bronzeville has completed its first fully developed property in the cluster co-developed with Strong Blocks; a fully gutted duplex turned two-story artist live-work space designed for Vedale Hill and family, featuring a public gallery space on the lower level.

We seek to cultivate Bronzeville by concentrating on properties that surround America’s Black Holocaust Museum in the Harambee neighborhood portion of the district. We honor the re-emergence of the museum as a beacon for change and an archive of pertinent history for this community” – Sara Daleiden, MKE<->LAX

Homeworks: Bronzeville notes that without active collaboration reviving the site’s decade-long vacancy under this type of incentive would not have been possible. Collaborators include the City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin Preservation Fund, Thurman Grant Architect, CopyWrite Magazine, Toki & Associates, Darren Hill, Jeff Lamar Brown, Gray Development Group, Food4All, Strong Blocks and other cultural leaders from the district and the city. The project has also been guided by City leadership including Alderwoman Milele Coggs, the Bronzeville Advisory Committee, the Department of City Development and the Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation in connection with the City’s Bronzeville Redevelopment Plan, the Bronzeville Artist Housing Report and the Art and Resource Community Hub (ARCH) Loan Program. 

Through support from the City’s ARCH Loan Program, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Wisconsin Preservation Fund, HomeWorks: Bronzeville is actualizing on this artist housing cluster, in alignment with the neighboring America’s Black Holocaust Museum.

As renovation will soon be on its way, the Press is invited to attend HomeWorks: Bronzeville “Press Launch”, March 26, 2022 at 10:30am at the north east corner of N. Vel R. Phillips Avenue & W. Meinecke Avenue.

Always learning from the world around them, challenging the systems before them, and advocating for authentic progression in creative placemaking, HomeWorks: Bronzeville believes “Community thrives on cultures.”

HomeWorks: Bronzeville is currently looking for investors for their future development projects. You can support them through their non-profit financing partner Wisconsin Preservation Fund.

To discuss investing options, collaboration, and more, please contact:

HomeWorks: Bronzeville, LLC Co-Owners

Vedale Hill, ‭Jazale’s Art Studio

Mikal Floyd-Pruitt, I Am Milwaukee

Sara Daleiden, MKE<->LAX

www.homeworksbronzeville.com

About: 

HomeWorks: Bronzeville is a development initiative based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Titled by its namesake, the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District, this initiative emphasizes community development in its physical, economic, and social form by way of authentic arts and culture applications. Learn more at: https://homeworksbronzeville.com/CHARTER

Center for Community Progress launches their Creative Placemaking Database of National Case Studies

Leaders from across the country are using arts, culture, and creative placemaking to reactivate vacant spaces, engage residents, set revitalization goals, and create a vision for their neighborhood. From pop-up events to permanent communal gathering spaces to storytelling through murals, leaders are using creative means to increase the vibrancy of their communities and improve quality of life for their neighbors.

HomeWorks: Bronzeville is renovating homes and creating owner-occupied live/work space for artists in the Bronzeville Cultural and Entertainment District in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. HomeWorks: Bronzeville is co-owned by Sara Daleiden of MKE<->LAX, Vedale Hill of Jazale’s Art Studio and Mikal Floyd-Pruitt of I Am Milwaukee.

Civic Engagement: Any individual or group activity addressing issues of public concern in both political and non-political actions to protect public values and make a change in the community. Civic Engagement efforts including voter turnout for the 2020 election by Rural Urban FLOW, a growing network of cultural and agricultural producers across Wisconsin’s rural-urban continuum. Co-produced by MKE<->LAX.

Co-Written by Angela Damiani, GMC Member and CEO/Co-Founder of NEWaukee and Sara Daleiden, Beerline Trail Project Leader and Founder/Director of MKE<–>LAX

The Milwaukee Night Market is returning to Downtown Milwaukee this summer through a sustainable strategic partnership with Westown Association and NEWaukee that feels like the perfect culmination of a winding journey.

We are remembering long creative sessions in 2013 in the original NEWaukee basement office of the Grand Avenue where Night Market was incubated. Propelled by a desire for street life on West Wisconsin Avenue that welcomed our generation made of many cultures in Milwaukee, we wondered what we could make. We were aware of the avenue’s vibrant history with shopping, art and public life, and we were also aware how empty and lifeless the street could feel. We wanted to believe, as we still do, that downtown can be a gathering place where neighbors from the many beautiful Milwaukee neighborhoods can enjoy being together day or night. Where we can share a downtown street as one heart of our city.

In that mall basement, we met weekly over many months as NEWaukee and MKE<->LAX, along with our collaborators from beintween and the Greater Milwaukee Committee (GMC) to imagine public space possibilities as artists and culture makers…

Read the full article: https://www.newaukee.com/events/rebuild/

The Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project hosted the final webinar of its series celebrating the Beerline Trail on May 25, 2021. Keynote speakers Mark Treskon and Kimberly Burrowes, researchers at the Urban Institute, discussed their newest report, “Embedding Equity into Placemaking: An Examination of the ‘Milwaukee Method’ of Creative Placemaking in Practice.” Efforts to build equitable creative-placemaking approaches are underway across the country. This report examines two creative-placemaking efforts in Milwaukee: the Beerline Trail and the Night Market. For both efforts, stakeholders in the city are building a practice to change how people see and experience the places around them. This “Milwaukee Method” of creative placemaking informs and shapes distinct creative-placemaking projects in the city to model a broader approach to place-based investing. The creative-placemaking projects were examined through a lens of inclusive, community-oriented development, with the goal of helping local stakeholders more effectively communicate the benefits and effects of placemaking in their work. This lens shows that how people feel about where they live, visit, and work affects their feelings of belonging, social cohesion, and identity. In addition to using the inclusive, community-oriented development lens, we determine how the lessons from the planning and implementation of these projects shape efforts to strengthen equity in the city and region. The findings capture takeaways to advance the creative-placemaking sector and drive future equitable investments. The webinar featured a panel of local officials and stakeholders talking about the impact of the Beerline Trail and the Night Market locally.

Embedding Equity into Placemaking: An Examination of the Milwaukee Method of Creative Placemaking in Practice

Sara Daleiden of MKE<->LAX served as a key advisor along with other Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project leaders on this recently released Urban Institute report.

This report examines efforts to implement equitable and inclusive creative-placemaking approaches in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Stakeholders there are building a creative-placemaking practice intended to change how people see and experience the places around them and to model an approach to place-based investing in distinct creative-placemaking projects across the city. Urban Institute focuses on two projects, the Beerline Trail and the Night Market, that implement this approach in aligned but distinct ways. The think tank examines both through a lens of inclusive, community-oriented development, with the goal of helping local stakeholders more effectively communicate the benefits and effects of placemaking. Urban Institute also presents process and implementation lessons focused on how these projects can continue to strengthen equity in the city and region moving forward and on how creative-placemaking techniques more generally can help drive equitable development. 

The Beerline Trail Neighborhood Development Project hosted this webinar celebrating the Beerline Trail and the Black Landscapes Matter book release on March 30, 2021. Keynote speaker Walter Hood has designed a concept plan for the creation of a Linear Park on the Beerline Trail. Hood, a nationally known landscape architect and artist, engaged with the community and used that input in his design of the Beerline Trail Lifeways Plan, an ambitious vision for this important community asset. Walter Hood is the Creative Director and founder of Hood Design Studio and a MacArthur Fellow. He is co-editor of a recently released collection of essays, “Black Landscapes Matter.” The book includes an essay about the Beerline Trail, written by longtime Beerline Trail project leader Sara Daleiden, director of MKE-LAX. The event featured Darryl Johnson, executive director of Riverworks, who shared Beerline Trail updates and a virtual “walk-through” of the Lifeways Plan. A local panel, including Sara Daleiden, discussed Black landscapes and why they are important for Milwaukee.