As construction begins and new plans are released for the ArtStop transit shelter in Bay View, planners can look back with pride on the long process that has brought about the creation of this unique transit amenity. At a height of 32 feet, the ArtStop shelter will provide mood lighting for the area, powered entirely by renewable energy, while serving as an iconic and recognizable gateway to the Bay View neighborhood.
At the intersections of S. Kinnickinnic, S. Howell and E. Lincoln Avenues, the ArtStop is the product of a unique partnership between the City of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County and Business Improvement District #44. With its unique artistic design, the ArtStop shelter will strengthen the already distinctive and bustling business district, and it will also be a significant aesthetic improvement over a somewhat dilapidated bus shelter that has been at the location for years.
Alderman Tony Zielinski said that he felt the triangle at the three-way intersection needed a functional public art bus shelter, which has been dubbed the ArtStop, to maximize the economic and aesthetic potential of that business district.
The first step toward realizing that goal was to secure a $5,000 donation from Paresh Patel, owner of Hub Market on Howell Ave., just across the street from the triangle.
When retired Public Works employee David John Dombrowski passed away, leaving his estate to the City of Milwaukee for projects that would better the city, Alderman Zielinski introduced legislation to take $146,000 of that estate and apply it toward the ArtStop project. The Alderman then reached out to Milwaukee County Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic to secure a $50,000 commitment from the county.
At the same time, Alderman Zielinski formed a task force charged with soliciting proposals for the project. The original members of the task force were Jason Wedesky, president of the Kinnickinnic Avenue BID, Kerry Yandell, an area property owner and a professor at the UW-Milwaukee School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Laura Ashleigh, an artist and Bay View business owner, Eric Ponto and Tom Mallman, both architectural designers and residents of Bay View, Brian Dranzik of the Milwaukee County Transit System, Supervisor Dimitrijevic, City of Milwaukee Public Works Manager Michael Loughran and Amy Heart from the Milwaukee Shines solar energy program.
The task force approached the job with two main goals, as outlined by Alderman Zielinski. The first was that the end product must be monumental in scope, creating “a real wow factor.” Secondly, Alderman Zielinski intended that the ArtStop would provide ambient mood lighting with energy sources that are 100 percent “off of the grid,” demonstrating the city’s commitment to the future and renewable energy.
There were approximately 13 responses to the task force’s Request for Proposals (RFP), and it was narrowed down to three finalists who received $1,000 each to expand upon their proposals. The three finalists made a presentation to the public at a community meeting, and neighbors who were present chose the design of Roman Montoto, Professor of Architecture from the University of Idaho and a native of the Bay View area. His proposal received the most votes at the meeting, and the task force concurred.
Through an RFP process, the Milwaukee firm Kotze Construction was chosen as the contractor for the project. Funding continued to pour in as the Milwaukee Arts Board dedicated $15,000 to the project, and Milwaukee Shines budgeted $5,000. The final contract was signed by the new President of the BID, Lee Barczak, on Monday, March 17, 2014, and the contract called for groundbreaking sometime in April and a project completion date no later than June 1, 2014.