The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Marcus moves toward new downtown theater

A multi-screen movie theater complex may be coming soon to a city block near you.

Marcus Corporation, a Milwaukee-based company that operates theaters and resorts across the country, signed a letter of intent last week to occupy the ground floor of a proposed 10-story office building less than two miles from campus.

The county-owned land on which the theater is proposed to be built is an area called Park East, which used to be a section of freeway. The building would be located on Water Street between Knapp and Cherry Streets near the North End apartment complex.

The letter of intent was the first step in the planning process, and Marcus has yet to begin designing what they would build on the site, said Carlo Petrick, Marcus’s communications director.

Marcus has been interested in developing downtown sites before, including the Pabst Brewery redevelopment, but this is the furthest any plans have ever progressed, Petrick said.

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Historically, developing the downtown area has been a problem in Milwaukee.

In the 1970s, the city used federally shared revenue to build the Shops of Grand Avenue, which opened in 1982. After the shops were finished, little money was left for other downtown projects, said Patrick Curley, Mayor Tom Barrett’s chief of staff. Suburban malls such as Mayfair Mall emerged as more convenient places to shop, and atrophy set in downtown, he said.

However, the downtown population started to increase about 15 years ago as rising gas prices made commuting more expensive, Curley said. Today, the downtown population is about 15,000.

“If professionals and empty-nesters continue moving downtown, development could occur naturally,” Curley said. He added this is due to increased demand for attractions like movie theaters.

Other developments in progress at or near the Park East site include mostly residential buildings, including the Moderne and Flatiron condominium complexes.

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