Near West Side Partners meeting may bring Marquette closer to getting grocery store on campus

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Near West Side Partners meeting may bring Marquette closer to getting grocery store on campus

Marquette students could potentially have access to an on-campus grocery store sooner than expected. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Otero

Marquette students could potentially have access to an on-campus grocery store sooner than expected. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Otero

Marquette students could potentially have access to an on-campus grocery store sooner than expected. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Otero

Marquette students could potentially have access to an on-campus grocery store sooner than expected. Photo courtesy of Kelsey Otero

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During the Q&A session at University President Michael Lovell’s January address, the status of a possible on-campus grocery store was brought up in an audience member’s question.

“I will just tell you, we are pretty close,” Lovell said during the presidential address. “We have a grocer, we have a developer, we have a site and now it’s just a matter of getting all of those things in line and all of the agreements in place.”

An upcoming meeting with Milwaukee shareholders, architects and key institutions from Near West Side Partners Inc. presents the opportunity for Milwaukee neighborhoods to come together and discuss what to do with empty lots around the city.

While the grocery store that Lovell talked about may not be the main priority for those at the upcoming meeting, the president is still committed to fulfilling his plan.

“We don’t have any additional information to share right now, beyond reiterating that Lovell is committed to bringing a grocery store to our area,” University Spokesman Chris Jenkins said in an email.

The meeting will take place April 7 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. It will feature a variety of speakers, including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

NWSP is a nonprofit organization comprised of five anchor institutions in the Milwaukee area, one of them being Marquette.

Kelsey Otero, Marquette’s social innovation coordinator, will attend the meeting to represent Marquette through NWSP. She said she looks forward to the meeting, as it is a breeding ground for new design in the community.

“It’s meant to be very collaborative, engaging, friendly, involving the community in the process of redesigning,” Otero said.” The designs that come up may or may not be used, but it helps to create a blueprint and a vision for what some sites could be.”

Marquette students aren’t the only ones looking forward to the possible implementation of a grocery store close to campus. According to Otero, results from community focus groups have shown that residents, specifically those located near 35th Street, would also like a new grocery store. Other proposed uses for the empty sites include new eateries, parks, offices, maker spaces and housing.

The developmental plans from the gathering will be released in May.

“Some (plans) may get developed five to 10 years down the road, but this is a really good conversation starter about needs in the community as well as building interest for people who want to come into the near west side,” Otero said.

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