By: Arika Kaosa


Since 2003, one question in Milwaukee concert venues has remained.
Will the House of Blues ever come to Milwaukee?
When talk of redeveloping the Pabst complex came about in the mid 2000's, the idea of PabstCity came into play. PabstCity was considered a huge undertaking. It was easily going to be one of the largest development ventures in Milwaukee’s history as an estimated $300 million dollar project targeting the cities “creative class”. The brewery grounds, which closed in 1996, would be a downtown entertainment epicenter. Almost all of the original brewery structures would be remodeled for lease and encase a new beginning in a Milwaukee historic landmark. In 2005, the House of Blues signed a lease to become the main anchor tenant of PabstCity with a 47,000 square foot plan including their exclusive Foundation Room. There were rumors of holding GameWorks, a Jenco Cinema, high end stores, office space, residential areas, and for a brief time the Harley-Davidson Museum on the grounds. In the summer of the same year, these plans were derailed by the Milwaukee City Council who thought PabstCity would severely hurt downtown independent business owners.
In 2006, a new owner took over the Pabst complex and renamed the project, The Brewery. This time, the layout of the grounds was more for residential, office, and retail use and not the grandiose entertainment complex aforementioned. With the 2009 editions of office buildings, mixed income loft apartments, negotiations for local retail stores, the College of Education and Leadership for Cardinal Stritch University, and the proposed site for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Graduate School of Public Health, the atmosphere for a hard rocking venue like the House of Blues to be in The Brewery confines has vastly diminished.
So, the question is, if they were to come into the city, where would they go? Milwaukee is packed full of entertainment halls and is sparse on space to hold such a venue anywhere near downtown. Not to mention, find adequate parking for the 2,000+ concert goers. Some local venue owners are against House of Blues coming into the city because of their strong draw for international and national touring musicians. When the initial lease contract was signed in 2005, The Rave hired four lobbyists to fight the House of Blues project. Shank Hall’s owner was against the chain venue entering the city as well as other tavern and store owners. Music fans in the city want something new and like the Pabst Brewery saga, might have to wait many more years before something happen

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