By PrincessSafiya Byers
This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee. Visit milwaukeenns.org.
From better traffic control to economic development, the nonprofit Near West Side Partners is celebrating efforts to revitalize and sustain its community for the last seven years.
According to residents and stakeholders, the work is paying off.
Tiffany Miller has been a Near West Side resident for more than seven years and said the investments made have improved the quality of life in the area.
For example, Miller said she’s seen a series of new speed bumps in her neighborhood as well as nuisance businesses being moved or closed and replaced with new ones.
The Near West Side is bound by I-43 on the east, Highway 41 on the west, Vliet Street and Highland Boulevard to the north and I-94 on the south.
Near West Side Partners participates in a monthly meeting that allows property owners, community members and business owners to come together with the Department of Neighborhood Services and the Milwaukee Police Department to discuss neighborhood issues and happenings.
“We try to keep it non-adversarial by keeping the best interest of the community at heart and mind when having these discussions,” said Bobby McQuay, the safety and outreach manager for Near West Side Partners. “We want this to be a safe area for our community to live, work and play.”
Patrick Kennelly, the director of Marquette University’s Center for Peacemaking, an academic research center, said he feels safety has improved through the Near West Side Partners’ PARC initiative.
PARC stands for Promoting Assets and Reducing Crime.
“More people are working together to keep the area safe,” he said. “The social connection really seems to have helped.”
According to PARC’s web page, violent crimes on the Near West Side decreased by 24% from 2014 to 2019.
A time to celebrate
Near West Side Partners celebrated its second annual Near West Side Week the week of Sept. 11 to highlight the community’s successes.
Keith Stanley, the executive director of Near West Side Partners, said you can see, taste and feel the difference in the neighborhood.
“The Near West Side is a thriving community brimming with history and diversity,” he said. “Near West Side Week is a great opportunity to share all the wonderful qualities this neighborhood possesses with the rest of Milwaukee and celebrate why the Near West Side is a great place to live, work and play.”
The week included a ribbon cutting for one of the newest developments in the area: the New State, a music park at 2612 W State St., and a series of tours and scavenger hunts for community members.
One of the week’s highlights was the Rev-Up MKE annual competition, which provides a boost start-up entrepreneurs. This year’s winner, Vertical Essence Dance Company, took home $10,000.
Stanley said the Near West Side has a long history of entrepreneurship dating back to the 1850s, and Near West Side Partners has worked to continue the tradition since its inception in 2015.
According to Kennelly, almost 40 new businesses have opened on the Near West Side since 2016. Some include Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille, which Stanley pointed to as a thriving business in the community, Pete’s Pops and Lisa Kaye Catering.
“I want people to be proud of this community because there is a lot to be proud of,” Stanley said.
Stanley said he is even more excited for the things to come, particularly Concordia 27, a project turning a vacant property on 27th Street into a community center and affordable housing development.
The project will create full-time jobs, provide new creative spaces for community engagement and support entrepreneurs and small businesses.
For more information
To keep up with what’s happening on the Near West Side, you can follow Near West Side Partners on Facebook or check out its website.