The Greenbush and Vilas neighborhoods have teamed up to produce a plan to preserve traditional parts of the neighborhood and shape development in others.
A new revitalization report (PDF) contains ambitious suggestions for leveraging the clout of the city and the area's major institutions, including the UW-Madison, Meriter and St. Mary's hospitals.
But the most radical idea would turn two streets, St. James and Bowen Courts, into "green streets." If this idea comes to fruition, the streets would be lined with trees and grass and closed to all but pedestrians, bicycles and emergency vehicles. The report points to the Milwaukee Avenue Historic District in Minneapolis, where most of the houses were renovated and others replaced with historic replicas. A homeowners association manages the common areas.
The report says green streets allow "smaller homes with smaller footprints, tightly grouped housing in exchange for community spaces for cars, garbage and pocket parks, and a place designed for walkability and community-oriented living." It argues that St. James and Bowen Courts are ideal candidates because they are "narrow, human-scaled streets already" and are "in an area of Greenbush that needs a transformative change to encourage a diversity of housing options and residents."
Ald. Julia Kerr, who represents the neighborhoods, says residents are excited about the green streets proposal.
"When the idea was first thrown out there, I thought, 'It's not going to work because we get a lot of snow here,'" she says. "But then I saw the example in Minneapolis, and if they can make it work, we can make it work."