The University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee (UWM) has joined forces with the City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Water Council to establish two locations for its new School of Freshwater Sciences.
UWM will build a $50 million addition to its existing Great Lakes WATER Institute at 600 E. Greenfield Ave. with part of the $240 million in bonding authority UWM received from the state last year. The 85,000-square-foot, four-story addition will provide advanced laboratories, and classroom and collaboration space, for a dozen academic programs.
In addition, the UWM Real Estate Foundation and the Water Council will seek funding to develop a site at the Reed Street Yards, near South Third Street and West Pittsburgh Avenue, for a “public-private” facility that will house academic applied research labs conference space and business interests, including a business accelerator and the Water Council offices.
City officials have pledged to design and seek funding for a project to turn East Greenfield Avenue into a boulevard from the harbor to First Street, and rebuild the railroad underpass. The city also will work with We Energies to establish a partition along Greenfield Avenue to separate a coal storage area on the south side of the street from the new boulevard. Finally, the city has designated the Reed Street Yards as a tax incremental financing (TIF) district to help fund redevelopment and encourage private development in freshwater-related research and industry.
“Working as a whole community is the best way to launch this vital new graduate-level school,” said UWM Chancellor Carlos E. Santiago. “It gives us the unity and impact necessary to attract new business and creative minds to Milwaukee, while building a strong foundation for our economic future as a freshwater center.”
Santiago said building on both sites allows the university to get the best of both worlds: a critical expansion of the facility on Greenfield Avenue that has been the home of remarkable freshwater research for nearly four decades, plus the creation of a showcase institution for applied research and technology at the Reed Street Yards. Both locations are in the city, on the waterfront, and will complement each other, said Santiago, adding that the dean of the new school and some faculty and staff will have offices and research space at the two facilities.
“Strong academic institutions are valuable ingredients in our city’s job creation efforts,” Mayor Tom Barrett said. “With Milwaukee’s position as a center of water technology, the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences plays a particularly important role in growing that segment of our economy. I am very happy to see the school’s bold expansion plans advancing.
“The business-research location will be a signature facility that will serve as a gateway for water-related industries while co-existing with technological research,” said Dean Amhaus, executive director of the Milwaukee Water Council. “Creating a water research campus is a perfect launch pad for our region’s continued growth as a world water technology leader.”
The estimated start date for construction of the WATER Institute addition is late 2011, but the joint university-business building could break ground as early as mid-2011. Fundraising for that construction, coordinated through the UWM Real Estate Foundation and the Milwaukee Water Council, is already under way.