Freeway construction limits Third Ward parking options

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by Lane Kimble

MILWAUKEE -- Parking comes at a premium in the Third Ward.  Take away a parking lot with more than 100 total spaces and it gets even worse.  But depending on who you talk to it might not be as bad as it seems.

"Really, it's just a headache," Public Market customer Adam said.

"Impossible to find parking anywhere," frustrated driver Anya Chesebro said.

That's been the case for years, made worse this month by major construction on I-794.  That knocked out the Public Market's main lot with 70 daily spots for the next three weeks.
 

"People are definitely more frustrated about it," Chesebro said.  "There's a guy I got in a conflict with over a  parking spot and I wasn't trying to steal it from him, but he probably thought I was."

"It seems like it's just a hassle down here just to get down here, just to buy clothes, to buy  anything," shopper Tina Repetti said.

Yet frustrated and fuming, people still seem to be shopping and eating here.

"We haven't seen any drop in traffic or daily sales figures, so that's been a plus," Public Market Communications Manager Paul Schwartz said.

The Public Market worked with the DOT to help minimize the impact.  A free shuttle service helps bring customers from farther away too.  So far, so good.

"Business [this weekend] was bustling," Schwartz said.  "We went down and made sure we checked with everybody on Monday and said,  'How were things?'"

"Solid weekend," Thief Wine Owner Phil Bilodeau said.  "I was pleasantly surprised. It was about a normal Saturday and Sunday business day. So, the bar was full, we sold a lot of wine and  people were happy once they're in here."

Just across the street, The Wicked Hop Bar and Grill stayed busy too, leaving management cautiously optimistic.
 

"The whole weekend was busy all the way through... But it's only been a couple of days so we still  could get a couple complaints, but nothing I've heard yet," manager Matti Fieweger said.

For now, customers seem to be leaving those comments on the street.

"It's one of my favorite places to go and it detracts me from coming down here, for sure," Chesebro said.

The public market set up a website to help people navigate the parking issues.  It has info on remote lots and the free shuttle service.  Find a link near the top of this page under "News Links".

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