Task Force Approves $66M Plan To Revitalize Milwaukee Domes

Plan Heads To County Board, Renovations Would Take Place Over Next 10 Years

Mitchell Park Conservatory, Milwaukee, Domes
Gretchen Brown/WPR

The Milwaukee County Task Force on the Mitchell Park Conservatory Domes has approved a recommended $66 million business plan to revitalize Mitchell Park and the iconic domes.

The task force voted unanimously Tuesday, with one abstention, to recommend the proposal to the county board. If approved, construction could begin as soon as next summer.

The vote Tuesday comes three years after the domes were temporarily closed due to falling concrete.

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The new conceptual design and proposal for the park was developed by ArtsMarket Inc. and their plan goes beyond fixing the domes. Around $30 million would go toward rehabilitating the domes, that includes repairing the concrete structure and glass as well as programing all three domes with changing exhibits.

The rest of the funds would be used on improvements and additions to Mitchell Park, including a welcoming center, wedding venue, amphitheater, a children’s discovery garden, a restaurant, areas specifically for urban agriculture and health, and more parking.

ArtsMarket Inc. lead consultant and founder, Louise Stevens, said the plan was created to revitalize the park by making it a center of enjoyment and learning for the community.

“The way that this park and perhaps other parks in Milwaukee County should be looked at is this idea of the civic commons,” Stevens said. “Having all of these elements that create a sense of this truly being the place that brings so many of us back together again as a community.”

To cover the cost of repairing the domes and renovating the park, the firm is proposing private funds, grants, and county bonding be used. The business plan breaks down the cost as $39 million coming from tax credits, $13.5 million from private funds, and $13.5 million from Milwaukee County. ArtsMarket Inc. also recommended the domes be submitted to the National Historic Register of Historic Places for additional grants and support.

ArtsMarket Inc. anticipates the proposal could bring 300 on-site jobs and 300,000 visitors a year. The firm also said with the relaunch of the domes and park, there could be a $160 million economic impact over 10 years.

Milwaukee County Supervisor Jason Haas said implementing the plan will take a lot of work but he’s excited to see it come to together.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for Milwaukee County to recreate one of it’s central oldest parks to the core of it’s being,” Haas said.