The Innovations and Wellness Commons
The Innovations and Wellness Commons (aka The Commons) is a community-driven, cooperatively funded multi-use commercial development on the corner of N. 16th and W. North Ave. in Milwaukee’s historic Lindsay Heights neighborhood. The Commons is revitalizing the commercial corridor of W. North Avenue, creating sustainable jobs, and increasing access to a variety of integrated services – healthy food, workforce training, educational and community programming, social enterprise businesses, and health and wellness services – for local residents.
A Resilence Hub
Our purposeful design and intentional investment back into the North Avenue Corridor is a response to decades of economic disinvestment and systematic racism in the Lindsay Heights neighborhood. We build from a strengths-based vantage point that creates a social, environmental and economic impact.
The Commons tenant-partnerships are intentional and create a resiliency hub for the community. It is home to entrepreneurs of color that are strengthening their businesses; community organizations that serve the needs of the community; and workforce and development training sites that strengthen employment opportunities for residents.
Designed with Purpose
The Commons combines old building restoration and a new build at a historically relevant site. The results of the merging of these old and new buildings created a high quality building that reflects the history and modern movements of its tenants. A “Green” Rooftop Terrace, installed by Walnut Way’s Blue Skies Landscaping and Conference Room spaces for programming overlook the North Avenue Corridor.
Tenant Partnerships Serve Community Needs
The Commons is an explicit response to demands for health, wellness and workforce services, within walking distance for residents living in zip codes 53205 and 53206. These zip codes have the highest emergency room visit rates for mental health in the city, according to Health Compass Milwaukee data from 2015-2017. At the same time, there is a growing wave of entrepreneurs, seeking to heal their own community through mental health counseling, nutrition, and other services.
- Taste of Lindsay Heights
- Designaway Apparel Printing
- Milwaukee AHEC
- Bridgett Wilder
- Marrika Rodgers
- Benedict Center Sister’s Program
Conservation and Sustainability
- Solar panel installations (with backup battery power coming soon)
- Energy efficient and operable windows
- Building windows and orientation to capture maximum daylight
- Environmentally friendly paint
- LEED compliant lights
- High efficiency heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system
Developed, Built and Managed by many including People of Color
- Emem Group
- Walnut Way Blue Skies Landscaping – Green Infrastructure
- Security team – Ashford Security
A Multi-Use Space for Small Business Incubation, Social Enterprise, and Wellness
The Commons phase I has achieved its purpose as a local food hub and small business incubator to activate the North Avenue commercial corridor in Lindsay Heights. Phase 1 consisted of a 6,500 sq. ft. renovation of an existing building and a 4,500 sq. ft. new addition equipped with a commercial kitchen operated by Milwaukee Center for Independence (MCFI). IWC phase 1 is fully funded and leased to tenant-partners: MCFI and Fondy Food Center. The retail space on the first floor is being repurposed into a resident-led cafe by local food-entrepreneurs from Walnut Way’s Community Wealth Building Program.
The Commons phase 2 is a new construction 5,470 sq. ft. 1.5 story building built on the parking lot adjacent to phase 1. Phase 2 will include a 2,000 sq. ft. rooftop terrace and convening space overlooking W. North Avenue that will serve as a community gathering space for up to 130 people. Phase 2 focuses on health, wellness, job training and employment pipeline support. It will serve as a collaborative community center, fostering evidence-based wellness programs, community health research, economic development initiatives, and neighborhood action campaigns to improve individual health and strengthen a culture of wellness in Lindsay Heights.
Our Vision for The Wellness Commons
Director Antonio Butts, meets with Julia Fellow, TMJ4 as we embarked on this major phase of the development project.
Many thanks to TMJ4’s Julia Fellow for visiting Walnut Way to learn about the Wellness Commons.