Developing the future
Waukesha officials look to attract young professionals, boost city revenue

By Hannah Weikel - Freeman Staff

June 22, 2017

WAUKESHA - Smart and lucrative city development was the big theme at Mayor Shawn Reilly's breakfast meeting on Wednesday morning, paired with an update on the rebranding efforts in downtown Waukesha that are ultimately meant to bring people to the area and boost city revenue.

Waukesha officials are looking to attract young professionals ages 20 to 39 - who will make up 75 percent of the workforce eight years from now - by making the city a more appealing and affordable place to live and work, said Waukesha's Director of Community Development Jennifer Andrews.

All development decisions made by city officials will affect who moves to Waukesha in the future, which will determine what businesses choose to open in the area, Andrews said during the presentation.

It's equally important for the majority of future development to maximize value per acre - bringing the city higher tax revenue - by building "up instead of out," Andrews said.

Downtown is the most built "up" district in Waukesha, and it brings in more tax revenue than other areas like Silvernail Shopping Center on Silvernail Road and more than double that of a big box store like Home Depot, according to Andrews.

"Big box stores and strip malls aren't providing nearly enough tax revenue," she said. "The city needs revenue to relieve our taxpayers from paying higher taxes."

This is also demonstrated through the sizable difference in tax density per acre of People's Park downtown compared to Walgreens on Madison Street several blocks away.

Residential areas and apartment buildings paint a similar picture - larger lots that are often priced higher are bringing the city less in tax revenue, Andrews said.

Waukesha has consistently fallen behind neighboring municipalities over the last few years in new construction, but city officials are hoping to change that.

The city has very little open "greenfield" land left to develop, so redevelopment and the minimization of single story commercial buildings are the future focus, Andrews said.

Downtown Waukesha launches new website, social media campaign

Features of new Downtown Waukesha website:

Full upcoming events calendar, featuring lots of live music, festivals and art.

Links to Waukesha Civic Theatre tickets and art galleries.

Page for businesses to share their events on the website, after approval by marketing committee.

Map of municipal parking lots downtown.

Shortcuts to with properties to buy or rent in Waukesha.

Features of new Downtown Waukesha Facebook page:

Shared pages for upcoming events in downtown Waukesha.

Photos and videos taken of the farmers market, art and shops downtown.

Reminders for Monday Night at the Movies.

Links to the Downtown Waukesha website.

Visit the new website at or like the Downtown Waukesha Facebook page.