A Brewery Complex Renewed with Blue Ribbon Practices

Project Summary: The former Pabst Blue Ribbon Brewery is being turned into a sustainable neighborhood that follows best stormwater management practices and is now able to absorb 75 percent of the stormwater that falls on the site, in the process preventing 85 percent of the pollutants in the stormwater from reaching the city’s drains.

Project Name: Sustainable Brewery Redevelopment

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Description: The old, abandoned Pabst brewery complex is being given new life. The 25-acre site of the former brewery is being repurposed into a neighborhood with hotels, apartments, offices,

In the renovated neighborhood, bioswales filter water into a 250,000 gallon reservoir below ground, delaying flood water from entering the town’s stormwater system. The native plants are also both drought and salt tolerant—important in a cold climate where salt builds up in the streets over the winter. Photo courtesy of Zilber Ltd.

In the renovated neighborhood, bioswales filter water into a 250,000 gallon reservoir below ground, delaying flood water from entering the town’s stormwater system. The native plants are also both drought and salt tolerant—important in a cold climate where salt builds up in the streets over the winter. Photo courtesy of Zilber Ltd.

and bars. The buildings that could not be repurposed were removed, but 95 percent of the materials were recycled or reused. The stormwater that falls on the complex is directed to filtration areas under the site where it drains more slowly so as not to overwhelm the sewer system. Other features include porous pavement, bioswales, and tree lawns open enough to accommodate the full height of mature trees, thereby minimizing tree culling. Once buildings are purchased the owners must disconnect them from the city sewerage system and redirect the water flow from the rooftops into the retention areas on site.

Approximate Cost of the Project: $1,700,000 for the total project; to date $1,000,000 has been spent

Resource Challenges Addressed: Brownfield site with contaminated soil, low water absorption, high levels of runoff

The Blue Ribbon Lofts, an apartment complex, which is part of the sustainable redevelop- ment projects that are helping to reducing runoff. Photo courtesy of Zilber Ltd.

The Blue Ribbon Lofts, an apartment complex, which is part of the sustainable redevelop- ment projects that are helping to reducing runoff. Photo courtesy of Zilber Ltd.

Key Partners (Public and Private): Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District, City of Milwaukee Department of Public Works, Zilber Ltd., State of Wisconsin, and National Park Service Historic Building Tax Credit Program

Types of Jobs Created: General laborers, construction workers, hydrologists, landscape architects, engineers, and architects

Results and Accomplishments: The instillation of swales, rain gardens, and large underground water holding tanks that drain slowly has decreased the rate rainwater enters the Milwaukee stormwater system. The Brewery site now absorbs 75 percent of the annual rainfall and through these features it is able to remove 85 percent of the pollutants in the water. The goal is to create a sustainable neighborhood with housing, commercial space, and mixed-use buildings.

Website: http://www.thebrewerymke.com/index.htm

Originally Published: August 30, 2013

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