Brewer’s Hill & Halyard Park- Two Revitalizing Urban Districts in Milwaukee’s Northside

The name Brewers’ Hill is derived from the large number of brewery workers and owners who once inhabited the area. Just to the south of the neighborhood, the Schlitz and Blatz breweries operated into the 1980s. Historically Brewer’s Hill was developed as very mixed neighborhood where a laborer’s cottage could stand across the street from a manager’s  mini mansion. This created a plethora of interesting turn of the century architectural styles including a mix of Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival. The district also has a fair share of warehouses near the Schlitz Brewery and Milwaukee River. These have been converted into office and condos as the neighborhood has revitalized.

MLK Drive is the dividing line between Halyard Park and Brewer’s Hill. Sadly this stood as a racial divide for much of the neighborhood’s history but this is becoming less and less the case as both neighborhoods revitalize. Halyard Park is historically a African American district that fell on hard times after the 60s and the construction of I-43. In response to widespread disinvestment and vacancy the neighborhood redeveloped much of its fabric with large suburban homes in the 1980s.  This was done by a resident and Black developer named Eechie Brooks and brought much needed Black homeownership to Halyard Park. Halyard Park was nicknamed the “Suburb within the City”.  Sadly this also had the downside of destroying more of the district’s quality urban fabric and density.

From an urban perspective the neighborhoods have quality access to bike and transit infrastructure, convenience to Dwtn, good for-sale housing diversity, decent retail and cultural amenities, and some great historic housing. To become a great urban district Halyard Park & Brewer’s Hill need more density, more 1-bedroom rentals, better park amenities, more urban in-fill on blighted land, and better urban massing along North Ave.

Click here to view my Brewer’s Hill Album and Click here to view my Halyard Park Album on Flickr

URBAN STRENGTHS:

* ADA and sidewalk infrastructure is generally good but a fair amount of residential streets with outdated curb cuts.
* Solid public transit and bike infrastructure access.
* Excellent access to Downtown.
* Great economic and racial diversity here. Decent age diversity but limited # of households with kids.
* Pretty good walkable school access but mixed ratings.
* Pretty good for sale diversity. Decent # of 1-bed condos selling btwn 185K-350K, 2-beds sell btwn 185K-550K, 3 & 4 beds sell between 185K-575K.
* Decent but not great cultural amenities including a good # of food & beverage bizs, a community theater, the American Black Holocaust Museum, a couple breweries.
* Decent but not great retail amenities including a supermarket, several boutiques/clothing stores, a hardware store, plenty of salons/barber shops, good # of churches.
* Some very attractive historic architecture along MLK Drive and good # of attractive homes throughout Brewer’s Hill.

URBAN WEAKNESSES:

* Okay # of rentals. Limited # of studios and 1-beds. Some 2-beds leasing 1K-2K. Good amount of 3-beds leasing btwn 1K-3K although most in the $1,000s.
* So so park amenities. Expensive recreational parks west of Halyard Park but little else with parks inside these neighborhoods. The expansive Kilbourne Reservoir Park is also only a couple blocks east of Brewer’s Hill.
* Still some safety issues especially in Halyard but this seems to be improving. Still a decent amount blight and vacancy especially in Halyard thanks to severe racial disparities.
* Very mixed bag with urban in-fill. Some quality Multi-family bldgs close to the Milwaukee River. Lots of large suburban housing built in Halyard Park in the 70s-90s.
* Urban massing is a mixed bag. Generally pretty good along MLK Dr. but lots missing death and auto centric blight along North Ave.  Many residential streets in Halyard park are filled with large suburban homes as well. Streetscaping is fine but nothing special about it.
* Still struggling with some image issues, especially Halyard Park but this should lessen in the upcoming years.

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