Tag Archives: Third Ward

Skylight’s fundraiser is a tasty Third Ward event

The performances at Skylight Music Theater are aimed at audiences’ hearts and minds. When it comes to fundraisers, however, Skylight aims to hit donors in the stomach.

The Third Ward theater group has been serving up top-notch musicals and operas for more than half a century. During its second annual Taste of the Ward on March 27, the theater will serve up homemade macaroni and cheese, sushi, gourmet ice cream and many other culinary delights produced by the ward’s sophisticated eateries.

According to Skylight organizers, the event is intended to “showcase and celebrate the range of cuisine available in the Third Ward.” At least 13 restaurants and food vendors are participating — a considerable increase from the nine restaurants that were part of last year’s inaugural event.

On the 2014 menu are offerings created by Prodigal, Gastropub, Verduras Tea House and Café, Café Benelux, Water Buffalo, Bavette, Smoke Shack, Club Charlies, Kasana, Swig, Kanpai and Indulge, Skylight’s own restaurant, located on the second floor of the Broadway Theatre Center.

In addition, Oro Di Oliva, which specializes in the sale of fine olive oils, and Purple Door Ice Cream, which is sold at the Third Ward’s Public Market, will participate.

The 2013 event “was such a hit, and the restaurant owners were so pleased with the feedback, that we decided immediately to repeat it this year,” says Becca Kitelinger, Skylight’s development director.

Each restaurant’s chef decides what to offer — whether an appetizer, entrée or dessert. Guests can sample as much as they like. If this year’s event is similar to last year’s, the stunning food presentations will stimulate everyone’s appetite. 

“Bring your appetite,” Kitelinger suggests. “You’re not going to leave hungry.”

Taste of the Ward will be held on Skylight’s second floor balcony and restaurant/bar. Guests can stroll through the area and perhaps score some cooking tips from the chefs present. The event also features a cash bar.

New features include a ballot to vote for your favorite restaurant. Also new are a wine pull and a restaurant gift certificate pull. Donations of $15 allow you to select a cork or envelope, depending on what raffle you choose. The wines are valued from $15 to $100 per bottle. Restaurant owners set the price of the gift certificates they donate to the event.

The evening’s attire is casual. “We just want people to come and enjoy our food as well as our beautiful theaters,” Kitelinger says.

No performances are scheduled, but guests can join backstage tours throughout the evening.

All proceeds from the event will support Skylight’s artistic and educational programs. Ticket prices for Skylight’s shows cover only half the production costs.

“Fundraisers are a vital part of our ability to offer reasonably priced tickets, as well as the educational programs that benefit our entire community,” Kitelinger says. 

On the table

at the Broadway Theater Center 5:30-7:30 p.m. on March 27. Tickets are $45 per individual or $30 for people ages 21–45. VIP tickets are $75 each and include a goodie bag stuffed with surprises. RSVP to Amanda Wallich at 414-299-4972 or Tickets also will be available at the door.

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Kasana brings culinary vision to Third Ward

Food is an art form to Ana Docta, president of the Kasana Group, a collection of culinary enterprises promoting a rich mélange of fine, nutritious and sustainable dining for Milwaukee foodies. Docta hopes to make Kasana’s adjoining bistro, gallery and commercial kitchen at 241 N. Broadway into the city’s premier gastro-hub and culinary incubator for budding chefs.

Docta has a strong culinary background on which to base her ambitions. A native of Argentina, she formerly served as a corporate food and beverage consultant and owned a restaurant in Porto Allegre, Brazil, before moving to the United States. In addition to Latin American influences, Docta’s food exhibits a strong commitment to health and nutrition, an appreciation gained during her formal training as a ballet dancer.

“When I cook, I want people to understand the different facets of the process – the smell, texture, consistency, flavor and comfort found in food,” says Docta, who owns the business with her husband Peter. “Fine dining does not have to be snobbish, but for me it does have to exhilarate my senses.”

Docta learned a lot from her father and mother, who ran an Italian restaurant and a candy kitchen, respectively, in her native country. Her enterprise’s name is a fanciful contraction of Casa de Ana, Spanish for “Ana’s house.”

“I just changed the ‘C’ to a ‘K’ to make it a little more funky,” she says.

Although Docta has been running a Milwaukee catering business for five years, specializing in “pop-up” dinners in homes and businesses around the Milwaukee area, the Kasana Group only began operating in the Third Ward space formerly occupied by Broadway Bistro & Bakery in January. Located on the ground floor, Kasana Café & Bistro is the business’ most visible component. It serves breakfast, brunch and light dinner fare, much of if drawn from Docta’s Latin-American heritage, with a nod to healthy, often vegetarian and gluten-free cuisine. 

The bistro’s Tortilla Espanola, baked with organic eggs, potatoes and carrots, is gluten-free and vegetarian. The three types of empanadas – one each with beef, chicken and a spinach-and-mushroom blend – feature organic ingredients. As much as possible, the menu is sourced from local providers.

The downstairs location also serves as headquarters for Kasana Gourmet, Docta’s long-standing catering operation; Kasana Good-to-Go, a line of take-away and vending machine items made from fresh, wholesome ingredients; and the Kasana Collective, a membership-based, shared-space commercial kitchen for budding food entrepreneurs who want to break into the market but don’t have their own commercial facilities.

Caroline Carter, owner of Chef Caroline’s Raw & Vegan Cuisine, regularly uses the 3,500-square-foot commercial kitchen to produce a line of crackers and other “unbaked” goods that emphasize nutritive value. Carter credits good nutrition with helping her to overcome a lifetime of depression. The Kasana Collective has enabled her to commercialize her passion for preparing and serving healthy foods.

“For small food producers like myself it’s difficult to find a licensed commercial kitchen that’s affordable,” says Carter, who plans to sell her products at various local markets and specialty food stores. “To be able to produce my food and do what I love is awesome.”

Carter’s approach perfectly suits the Kasana Collective’s goals, and her products extend Milwaukee’s culinary culture in meaningful ways, Docta stresses. Carter is one of several collective members whose goods are for sale in the bistro.

“Kasana is a values-driven business based on socially conscious and responsible practices, following the triple bottom-line construct of people, planet and profit,” Docta says. “We strive to generate positive social impact by creating jobs and providing wider access to healthy food.”

The bistro’s checkout counter also offers Docta’s baked items, including: alfajores, stuffed Argentine cookies made from organic wheat and available wrapped in coconut, pistachios, ground peanuts and chocolate; dry fruit bons bons, made from organic dates, organic walnuts and whiskey; assorted organic chocolate truffles; and other dessert items.

The gallery adjoining the bistro takes the enterprise’s artistic mission beyond cuisine. The walls are covered with for-sale paintings and photographs by local artists. It’s an aspect of expression that beautifully complements the restaurant’s creative cuisine, Docta says.

On May 3, Kasana took the artistic concept one step further by presenting a floral design workshop featuring Michael Gaffney, a nationally known designer who has both his roots and one of his schools firmly planted in the Milwaukee area. 

Gaffney, who has designed for clients from coast to coast and whose work was seen in the film “Black Swan,” taught the elements of exquisite floral design during a two-part, nearly four-hour session in the gallery’s adjoining exhibition space. Each student received a copy of Gaffney’s book “Design Star.”

“Kasana stands for quality, innovation and community empowerment,” Docta says. “We emphasize improving the quality of life of our customers, our employees, our communities and the environment.”

For more, visit www.kasana-mke.com.

Chef Dominic Zumpano knocks it out of the park at Ryan Braun’s Graffito

Attaching a celebrity’s name to a restaurant isn’t a new marketing strategy, but it can still work. Affiliations with sports figures, in particular, often bring faithful fans through the door.

We know – and are thankful for the fact – that former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka isn’t grilling steaks in the kitchens of his namesake restaurants in Chicago and Pittsburgh. But some diners see a certain cachet to playing in the major leagues by frequenting Ditka’s eateries.

We expect the steaks at Ditka’s to be big, manly-man cuts of meat, because we imagine that’s what Da Coach himself would eat. We’re not exactly sure what Milwaukee Brewer and National League MVP Ryan Braun would eat, but the restaurant bearing his name suggests that it’s nouvelle Italian-American cuisine with a bit of whimsy seasoning the mix.

Located in Milwaukee’s Third Ward, Ryan Braun’s Graffito – formerly Ryan Braun’s WaterFront Grill – is trying to reinvent itself as a relatively new member of the Oak Creek-based SURG Group. The group is responsible for such culinary hits as Carnevor, Charro, Distil, Mi-Keys and Umami Moto. In SURG’s hands, the riverside restaurant has lost the heavy-handed baseball theme and imagery, but Braun’s name remains on the sign.

Graffito, which means “scratch” in Italian, implies fresh food that’s freshly prepared. By bringing chef Dominic Zumpano, formerly of Umami Moto, back to Milwaukee, Graffito assured that in addition to fresh, the food would be creative, unusual and – pardon the pun – even a little out of left field.

Maybe that explains the Braun connection.

Several of us enjoyed a quiet lunch on a very quiet mid-Saturday afternoon. We received attentive service and dined in relative bliss during our off-peak visit.

Excellent home-baked ciabatta and olive oil dressed with a freshly crushed garlic clove and herbs started us out. We added an order of fried olives ($7), which had been stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, breaded and deep-fried. They were served with a sweet and spicy sauce. This was the first time we’d experienced fried olives, but not the last time we would order them.

Glasses of 2010 Sciarpa Pinot Grigio ($8) from Veneto and 2010 Castello Chianti DOCG ($8) from Tuscany arrived early and accompanied us throughout the meal.

A good start, we thought as we nibbled and sipped. However, we didn’t quite expect the visual splendor Zumpano’s touch would bring to our entrées.

All of our dishes appeared as multi-hued displays on long narrow plates and were as pretty to look at as they were flavorful to eat. The menu selections more than pleased the group’s two vegetarians, proving it doesn’t take meat to create culinary magic.

Take for example, the Mezzaluna ($16). The blend of butternut-squash-and-goat- cheese-filled half-moon pasta, Brussels sprouts, roasted tomatoes and mushrooms had been tossed with pumpkin seed pesto, creating a collision of flavors both complementary and contrasting. The entrée offered a new experience with each bite.

Next consider the eggplant ($17). As a takeoff on eggplant involtini, made popular recently by Emeril Lagasse, the dark-skinned vegetable had been sliced, coated in parmigiano bread crumbs and prepared with oven-roasted tomatoes, then served with black pepper pasta. As an involtini, the blend was baked to allow the mozzarella cheese to melt over it. The dish delivered enough spark and character to change the most recalcitrant diner into an eggplant-lover.

Our group’s lone meat-eater opted for the restaurant’s popular hot wing ravioli ($14 for lunch/$19 for dinner). The little pasta pillows had been stuffed with house-made ricotta cheese and topped with braised chicken strips, melted gorgonzola and hot sauce. The dish was served with tarragon butter and fried onions. The hot sauce flared and ebbed as it interacted with the other components, creating yet another dish offering a different experience with each mouthful.

For our finale, as the menu calls them, we sampled a walnut, cranberry and granola dessert ($7) that had been prepared in house. The variety of flavors and textures balanced the multiple influences so none of the elements – not even the tart cranberries – overwhelmed the palate. For our money, however, the chocolate and hazelnut mousse ($7), served with salted caramel gelato, hazelnut crunch and dark chocolate ganache offered a richer and more potent mix.

Ryan Braun’s Graffito does not have prominent signage and is a little difficult to find for first-timers, but it’s well worth the effort and valet parking is available. We might even say that chef Zumpano’s creative plates, ahem, hit it out of the park just about every time.


The holiday season is in full force as decorations light up the streets across the city. The Historic Third Ward, one of Milwaukee’s art hot spots, is getting into the spirit with Christmas in the Ward festivities  Dec. 3-4. Catalano Square (on the corner of Broadway and Menomonee) will feature live entertainment, reindeer, and Christmas trees for sale. The Third Ward’s annual tree lighting ceremony takes place at 5 p.m. Dec. 3, and a fireworks display lights up the sky over the river at 6 p.m. Shop windows throughout the ward are decorated this year in silver and gold. Votes for favorite windows will be tallied until Dec. 22, and the winner will be posted on the Historic Third Ward website Dec. 23.

Of particular note for art lovers is the Marshall Building, 207 E. Buffalo St. From 6-9 p.m. on Dec. 3 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Dec. 4, numerous art galleries are opening their doors for the holiday event. A food drive will be held in the building for the Hunger Task Force, which will accept non-perishable food items for donation.

The spectacle of the season also is on display at the Pabst Mansion, 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave. The halls are decked out in their annual festive décor, featuring this year’s theme “A Grand Avenue Christmas.” The historic, 37-room Flemish Renaissance Revival-style mansion was completed in 1892 for Captain Frederick Pabst, beer baron and arts patron. Victorian opulence is always in style here, but at this time of year the architectural splendor is accented by opulent seasonal decorations. This year’s display includes an array of nutcrackers populating the music room, from miniature to life-size in a variety of guises.

For the Pabst Mansion, Charles Allis Art Museum and Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, a holiday pass is available for $13.

Making ‘Rent’

“I am so excited about this,” says Donna Drake as she slowly pushes open the doors to the Cabot Theater at the Broadway Theater Center in the Third Ward. “We are doing things in this theater that we’ve never done before.”

Once inside, a quick view confirms the New York actor/director’s claims

Drake, the director of the Skylight Opera’s season finale “Rent,” has created a brave new and different world within these walls. She’s brought to life the East Village of New York City circa 1989.

The stage has been converted into a multi-level steel tenement structure with stairs coming up both sides and a connecting bridge. There are crew members everywhere working on the set, testing lights and checking sound.

This “rock opera” has the street cred and the commercial track record to continue the crossover appeal that has drawn audiences of all ages since its debut in 1996. Based on Giacomo Puccini’s 1986 opera “La Boheme,” “Rent’s” rise to fame and fortune offstage is as much a part of the show’s iconic status as its classically based storyline.

The show’s creator, composer and lyricist Jonathan Larson, took his characters from the community of poor, starving artists who populate “La Boheme,” some of them suffering from tuberculosis. One hundred years later, this group of poor starving artists now deals with the onslaught of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. While Puccini’s artists were poets, painters, singers and musicians, Larson’s characters, all with HIV/AIDS, include an exotic dancer, a gay philosophy professor and a gay drag queen, among others.

Literally hours before “Rent” opened off Broadway in January 1996, Larson died suddenly of an undiagnosed aortic aneurysm. He never lived to the see the enormous success of his work, which went on to win a Pulitzer Prize and a Tony Award after moving to Broadway for a long run.

“I’m so impressed with the bravery of the Skylight. I have not censored anything (in this production) and the Skylight has supported that,” says Drake, who lives on Manhattan’s Upper West side with her female partner of three years. “I’m absolutely fearless. If I make people uncomfortable watching this show, then good. Don’t be afraid of it. Embrace it. “

Drake previously directed “Smokey Joe’s Café” and “Blues in the Night” for Skylight. But she’s been waiting for years to direct “Rent.”

Drake is passionate discussing this show and its messages. She becomes more animated (read: louder) amid the din of the construction in the theater and the “Rent” band rehearsing with music director Jamie Johns above in the Skylight bar. As she emphatically states, “Rent” is still as vital and critical today as it was when it first opened in the mid-1990s.

“People are still living with AIDS and people only politely tolerate gays,” she points out. “It breaks my heart. We need to keep putting it out there.”

The Skylight has partnered with the AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW) for “Rent” and will donate proceeds from the May 23 performance to the organization.

Drake knows all too well about the ravages of HIV/AIDS. She’s lost many friends over the years, including the mentor who changed her life, director and choreographer Michael Bennett. Drake was just 19 years old, fresh off the bus from her native Columbia, S.C., when she ended up in a workshop Bennett was conducting about the lives of Broadway dancers. This workshop would become the show that changed theater – and Drake’s life: “A Chorus Line.”

“I learned a lot from Michael,” she recalls. “I learned the basics about the theater, especially truth and integrity, and that has stayed with me.”

Another part of what she’s learned from the legendary director is to share the spotlight, in this case with the Skylight team she’s been working with for the past year: Jason Fassl (lighting designer), Holly Payne (costume designer) and Lisa Schlenker (set designer).

“The four of us are doing our own take” on “Rent,” she says. For example, characters will look different from their original Broadway counterparts, from casting to costumes.

But one aspect of “Rent” that remains the same is the humanity and the emotions of the show, Drake says. “Women, black people, gay people are still minorities. But we’re all the same. We all share the same heart.”

Point of Change | Walker’s Point is ‘ready to boom’

It’s home to gay bars, arts organizations, antique stores and ethnic restaurants. It draws struggling artists, ballet dancers, budding entrepreneurs, gay men and lesbians.

In a neighborhood dominated by drab and often gritty industrial buildings, the four-faced Allen Bradley Clock Tower (listed in the “Guinness Book of World Records” as the largest four-faced clock in the world) is not only a standout, it’s an apt symbol for a community on the brink of change.

Just a few blocks south of the hot Third Ward and north of the popular Bayview community, Walker’s Point is well-positioned for development.

“Realtors and brokers in the city have already renamed the area ‘the Fifth Ward’ because it will encompass a little more than Walker’s Point,” says Jim Dieter, owner of Blackhawk Antique Market, a 36,000-square-foot warehouse space. “The economy has slowed the growth down a little, but a lot of people are acquiring properties here right now. There are some things in the pipeline that haven’t taken off yet. Walker’s Point is ready to boom.”

Chris Allen, marketing manager for the Milwaukee Ballet, agrees. “What you’re seeing is the Third Ward is starting to move south and Bayview is expanding north,” Allen says. “That’s part of the reason why things are starting to pick up here in the neighborhood.”

Once a thriving manufacturing area, Walker’s Point offers an abundance of turn-of-the-century warehouses. That’s one reason the Milwaukee Ballet decided to make Walker’s Point its headquarters back in the early 1980s. “We needed a big building with lots of open space, and we’ve taken advantage of every square inch here,” Allen says.

The building, located at Fifth and National, used to be the Tivoli Schlitz Beer Garden. “You can still see the logo above our doorway,” Allen says.

Old warehouses aren’t all that draws artists to Walker’s Point. Cheap rents help, and so does the neighborhood’s location. “I think because the neighborhood is so close to MIAD (Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design) and nearby galleries, a lot of artists and entrepreneurs just end up here,” Dieter says.

Many of the local business owners in Walker’s Point are part of the gay community. “This has been Milwaukee’s gay entertainment district for many years,” says Paul Masterson, executive director for the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, an organization dedicated to presenting and promoting LGBT-relevant art. “But unlike places like Halsted Street in Boystown, it’s not concentrated in just one area.” The fact that the bars in Walker’s Point are spread out in small clusters creates a lack of cohesiveness, but the biggest complaint among patrons and owners alike is the grungy, uninviting feel of the commercial district, especially along Second Street.

“It’s a tough area to develop, because the neighborhood is largely warehouses and factories, which might not necessarily lend themselves to places like coffee shops, boutiques and restaurants,” Masterson says. “There’s some new development here, but it is primarily evening entertainment. As the neighborhood develops, hopefully we’ll see some daytime venues that create more daytime traffic.”

A city streetscape project, scheduled to begin this spring on Second Street, could prove to be the catalyst. According to Ghassan Korban, coordination manager for the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, the project will effectively narrow Second Street to create needed green space between the curb and the walk, roughly five feet on each side. Plans include trees, greenery, bike paths, a parking lane and new harp lights.

While there are currently no plans in place to make Walker’s Point a designated gay neighborhood — similar to Halsted Street in Chicago or the Castro in San Francisco — it’s not out of the question in the near future. Many developers and business owners think the streetscape project is the first step towards making the neighborhood a true destination.

“Right now, Walker’s Point is very industrial-looking and desolate, because there’s no greenery,” Korban says. “We hope that the improvements will enhance economic development by making the area more inviting, encouraging people to bike and walk more. We think this neighborhood is on the verge of becoming more vital.”

The available housing stock in Walker’s Point consists mostly of Victorian single-family homes and rehabbed historic lofts. According to Coldwell Banker real estate agent William Urban, a studio loft in the S2 building on Second Street, featuring 12-14 foot ceilings, costs about $65,000. A single-family home in the neighborhood can cost anywhere from $20,000 (for a foreclosed as-is home) up to about $350,000.

While the residential sector in Walker’s Point lags behind its commercial district, there’s plenty of potential for growth, Urban says. “There are a couple of city blocks that are practically wide open down there,” he says. “There’s a big void in the Fifth Ward just waiting to be filled.”

Many people think it’s just a matter of time before Walker’s Point — or the Fifth Ward — takes off. Appropriately, the Milwaukee Ballet plans to stage “Peter Pan” this spring. The world premiere production will feature original costumes, choreography and score — not to mention Peter Pan flying through the air. “Peter Pan has been done before, but as a ballet, not very often,” Allen says. “This is an interesting, exciting time for us. We’re on the cusp of change.”

From Warehouse district to arts district

It’s gallery night in the neighborhood, which means the galleries are open late, offering hors d’ oeuvres, live music and special exhibits. As shoppers wander through the galleries — housed in 19th-century brick warehouses — they might stop for a martini at Soho 7, grab some French food at Coquette Café or shop for vintage designer clothing at Lela Boutique.

This isn’t SoHo in New York or River North in Chicago. This is the Third Ward in Milwaukee, the city’s top destination for art and design.

Beer, bratwurst and baseball may be alive and well in this town, but so are the arts. Even the frigid winter weather isn’t enough to stop Milwaukee’s art enthusiasts from attending Gallery Night & Day, a two-day event held four times a year.

“No matter what the weather, gallery nights bring in so many people from around the area,” says Elaina Grinwald, gallery associate at Katie Gingrass, the oldest gallery in the Third Ward. “It really sparks an interest in collectors of all kinds. Milwaukee is starting to be a great place for art.”

According to Grinwald, the Third Ward, bordered by the Milwaukee River, Lake Michigan harbor and downtown Milwaukee, is a natural art destination.

“The old warehouse spaces are unique and attractive and they’re all a little different,” she says. “There’s a lot of character here that lends itself well to art.”

Not long ago, the Third Ward was an abandoned warehouse district, and no one was talking about art openings. “In the Eighties, the Third Ward fell into decline and a local alderman suggested it should become the red light district for the city of Milwaukee,” says Ronald San Felippo, chair of Milwaukee’s business improvement district number two and past president of the Historic Third Ward Association. “I think that galvanized owners to develop a business improvement district.”

In fact, the area has a history of reinventing itself. The Third Ward was originally settled by Irish immigrants, but after a fire wiped out about 16 square blocks in 1893, the community was reborn as an Italian working-class neighborhood. By the 1970s, the area had gone downhill, but some residents, like San Felippo, never forgot what it was like when it was vital.

“My father was born in the Historic Third Ward,” San Felippo says. “It was a place where you could live, work, play and shop all within the boundaries of the neighborhood.”

It took years of planning, but the Third Ward finally started taking off in 1993. After a $3.4 million streetscape project — which included unique light fixtures, street signs and gateway arches over the two main roads coming into the area — Milwaukee residents began to take notice. “The arches branded the neighborhood and started the turnaround,” says San Felippo, a developer who’s been involved in several successful residential and commercial projects in the Third Ward. “In the last decade or so, we have increased the assessed valuation of our area by nearly $500 million.”

From numerous designer clothing boutiques such as Lela, which closes off the street and puts on a fashion show every year, to hip eateries and wine bars such as Cuvee, which offers more than 100 varieties of sparkling wine, there are now enough restaurants and businesses in “The Ward” to make it a destination, San Felippo says. The Milwaukee Public Market on Water Street — a two-level space offering cheese, sausage, flowers, wine, fresh fish, freshly roasted coffee, soups, sushi and baked goods from independent retailers — is easily one of the neighborhood’s best assets.

Many of the arts organizations located in The Ward are beneficiaries of these amenities, says Matt Kemple, marketing manager for the Next Act Theater, one of several thriving theater companies in the area.

“For us, this is really a prime location,” Kemple says. “People can park their car, do some shopping, go out to eat and see a show. There’s a lot going on here — not just in the theater scene. The local businesses here all contribute to one another’s success.”

While the Third Ward is currently more of a commercial district, residential development is catching up, says San Felippo, who has lived in the area since 1998. “We have 1,500 residential units occupied now, and in the mid 1990s, there were none. We also have a fair number of additional units coming online in the next couple of months.”

Many of the existing residential units are condo/loft units located in rehabbed timber and brick warehouse buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places. But according to Bob Monnat, CFO of the Mandel Group, the neighborhood also features a fair amount of new construction loft-style infill construction, including Gaslight Lofts (139 luxury rental units built in 2003), Marine Terminal Lofts (83 condominium units, completed in 2007 and sold out), and Corcoran Lofts, a 76-unit rental building available this spring.

“There’s a healthy mix of rental and for-sale opportunities here that attracts a broad range of buyers and renters,” Monnat says.

While the Mandel Group has put one of its Third Ward projects on hold due to the economy — a 65-unit luxury condominium project located on the river — Monnat has no doubts this vibrant neighborhood will continue to thrive. “This is one of the few walk-able downtown neighborhoods,” he says.

For Kemple, the neighborhood was enough to inspire him to relocate from Ohio. “I was working in the theater scene in Columbus and found Milwaukee by accident,” he says. “I realized that the art scene here has really grown, and in the Third Ward especially. This is an exciting place to be right now.”