Aerotropolis Milwaukee Reaches Milestone – Development Plan Completed

Earlier this year, the Aerotropolis Milwaukee and its partners reached an important milestone with the completion of the Aerotropolis Development Plan – a large scale planning report outlining opportunities related to industry, transportation, and connectivity to the economic driver that is MItchell International Airport. The group partnered with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SEWRPC) to lead the year long effort in the creation of the plan.

Formed in 2010, the Aerotropolis Milwaukee is public-private nonprofit corporation, focused on comprehensive economic development, centered around the General Mitchell International Airport.  Through its multijurisdictional approach, public and private representatives from each of the surrounding airport communities have come together to coordinate the economic and physical development of this Southeastern region of Milwaukee County. The driving factor to the Aerotropolis plan is its goal of efficiently linking the region’s air, rail, road and shipping transportation capabilities with existing and future real estate and business development.

Governed by dedicated 21 member board which includes representatives from the City of Cudahy, City of Franklin, City of Greenfield, City of Milwaukee, City of Oak Creek, City of South Milwaukee, City of St. Francis, Village of Greendale, Village of Hales Corners, Milwaukee County, General Mitchell International Airport, Port of Milwaukee, Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, Cobalt Partners, Crystal Limousine & Coach, GLR Management, HNTB and VJS Construction Services. This collaboration between public and private is key to the success of this effort, and the region.  With a completed plan, local governments, industry leaders and real estate developers now have a reference tool which will aid in decision-making relative to future land use and strategic investments

The Aerotropolis Concept

Similar concepts for regional economic development have been implemented in 38 cities across the country, all sharing a core value of improving the economic vitality of its region by focusing on the connectivity and economic potential of an airport. Unlike other airport regions, there are many communities directly located around the General Mitchell International Airport, increasing the importance of a coordinated planning approach. The plan itself identifies where future airport-oriented growth and economic development should occur by incorporating the existing planning efforts of each municipality and jurisdiction, with additional recommendations for modest change to each community’s comprehensive plan.

The plan identifies the many contributing areas that support the overall aerotropolis concept, focusing on six “aerotropolis growth areas”. These areas were identified based on a few major factors: proximity to the airport, the ability and likelihood to accommodate aerotropolis-supporting land uses and the amount of available vacant or underutilized land.

The areas include:

·       Layton Town Center

·       Layton/Lake Parkway

·       Milwaukee South Industrial Area

·       13th/27th Streets

·       Oakwood Road

·       Loomis Road

Examples of the contributing aerotropolis areas include downtown South Milwaukee and the Caterpillar Global Mining Plant, Greendale Business Park, 27th Street Retail Corridor and the Hales Corners Retail Corridor.

The plan recommends attracting and growing businesses at these locations, improving the connections to the Milwaukee Airport and enhancing amenities that contribute to a better quality of life for Airport-area workers and a more enjoyable and impactful experience for those visiting the area.

In addition to land development, a major goal of the plan is to achieve a high-quality, multimodal transportation system to serve the plan’s growth areas.

Transportation recommendations include:

  • Maximize connectivity between aerotropolis-supporting land uses,
  • High-quality streets and highways
  • A greatly improved and expanded transit system
  • Infrastructure improvements to quickly move freight to and from the aerotropolis
  • A well-connected bicycle and pedestrian network.

Street and highway improvements to include:

  • Elm Road Interchange,
  • Lake Parkway extension
  • Capacity expansions on congested roadways including Interstate-94 North and South and 27th Street
  • Incorporating complete street concepts into new and reconstructed roadways

Public transit improvements:

  • Implementing rapid transit between Northwestern Mutual and downtown Milwaukee via the airport
  • Implementing a commuter rail line
  • Extending an express bus route on 27th Street; extending an express bus route on S. 27th Street to Northwestern Mutual
  • Increasing frequency and service hours on existing transit services
  • Increasing speed and frequency on existing Amtrak Hiawatha line; and improving commuter buses.

Freight improvements include:

  • An increase in capacity to address congestion on regional highway freight network
  • Identifying oversize and overweight truck routes and address impediments to those shipments
  • Pursue development of a new truck-rail intermodal facility in or near Southeastern Wisconsin, and the construction of a Muskego Yard Bypass.

Bicycle and pedestrian improvements include:

  • The addition of on-street accommodations as surface arterials streets are reconstructed or added
  • Consideration of enhanced bike facilities (e.g., protected bike lanes), connecting off-street path segments (particularly for the Oak Leaf Trail), expand bike share implementation and pedestrian improvements (particularly along commercial corridors).

Since completion of the plan in February, both the Aerotropolis Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission have been working closely with leadership throughout the area to present the plan and its recommendations to each of the communities within the airport region, seeking endorsement of the plan with an ultimate goal of incorporating the recommendations into their existing and future comprehensive plans.

To view the full Aerotropolis Milwaukee Development Plan report click on the link below

Aerotropolis Development Plan Report

For more information, visit our website at, or contact our offices at 414-455-3323.