The Garden Homes neighborhood in Milwaukee’s 30th Street Corridor is special for many reasons. It was developed in the 1920s and is the first and only municipally sponsored public housing cooperative. It has been described as a “precursor to New Urbanism,” which is a movement emphasizing smaller homes on smaller lots, with pedestrian amenities, surrounding a public park, and access to transit.
Garden Homes was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1990 and all 93 homes nestled around Garden Homes Square Park are still standing.
Garden Homes was once a thriving neighborhood, with homeowners working in nearby industry, especially A.O. Smith. After decades of economic disinvestment in the area, the neighborhood has devolved into an area rife with crime, unemployment, poverty and is one of Milwaukee’s most challenged neighborhoods.
The Corridor has taken a lead role in convening a diverse group of stakeholders, residents, nonprofits, businesses and faith-based organizations to combine efforts to make a greater collective impact. Currently The Corridor is working to help the community design a plan for the Garden Homes Park, funded in part by the Argosy Foundation. This complements a housing project and rain garden work also in Garden Homes. There is also a plan for a neighborhood clean-up and resource fair in Spring 2016.
There is a planning committee which meets ahead of community meetings to better ensure group coordination. The first community meeting was in December 2015 and over 40 residents attended to discuss ideas for renovating Garden Homes Park. A second community meeting in January helped to finalize ideas to include in the park design.
The third community meeting will be March 14, 2016 at 6 p.m. at New Hope Baptist Church, 2433 W Roosevelt Street. Topics will include the neighborhood clean-up, landscaping, and resource fair.
To date, the groups working in Garden Homes are listed below.