Frank Productions Pitches Milwaukee Concert Hall, Receives Mixed Reactions

Madison-based concert promoter Frank Productions and its concert promotion division FPC Live addressed the audience for the first time about the company’s new concert hall in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Quarter. And reactions to the project have been mixed.

Frank Productions CEO Joel Plant and Charlie Goldstone, co-chair of FPC Live at Frank Productions, which would operate the site, spoke at the Milwaukee Public Market on Tuesday evening during the first of two public talks, answering questions from attendants and viewers in person. on Zoom.

While some have expressed support, others have expressed concerns that the site would be an eyesore to residents of condominiums overlooking the proposed site, and that the development could lead to noise and parking issues, among other concerns.

The built from scratch, two-venue complex announced last month – one with a capacity of 4,000 people, the other with a capacity of 800 people – would host around 135 events per year, including concerts and some private functions like weddings, corporate meetings and fundraisers, Plant said on Tuesday.

“We all agree that a vibrant, exciting and arts-centric downtown is not only important, but also fun and vital for a city,” Plant said. “Milwaukee is a very strong concert market, and Milwaukee deserves to have these two state-of-the-art venues to prepare for the next 30+ years of live music.”

“We fell in love with this neighborhood and know that (the place) would have a huge positive impact on all businesses here,” Goldstone said Tuesday. “With our venues in Madison, bars and restaurants experience event nights, when they gain a lot of living. … The positive impact on the third quarter will be huge, and we love it. “

RELATED:FPC Live, Supported by Live Nation of Madison, Plans to Open New Concert Hall in Milwaukee

RELATED:A proposed concert hall near Summerfest may undergo a zoning change. Here’s why the contested project won’t need a Joint Council review.

Plant suggested on Tuesday night that the site, built on what is now a service land, would increase property values ​​in the area, without offering specific data, basing its projections on other cities with sizable new sites. similar.

Traffic will increase, but Plant stressed that a new venue would not mean a “redux Summerfest,” referring to the country’s largest music festival, held annually in the third district of Maier Festival Park, resulting in several road closures and sufficient security and police directing traffic.

“The idea that a hall with a capacity of 4000 will always hold 4000 people is not true,” Plant said. “There may be a handful of nights where we maybe have sold-out events in both venues at the same time, but at this point we’re talking about less than 5,000 fans.”

Work with the police on traffic problems

The building is designed so that entrance lines form inside an open courtyard directly in front of the smaller site, Plant said, while passenger trucks will be able to stay inside the complex. Goldstone said.

Frank Productions also had preliminary discussions with the Milwaukee Police Department regarding traffic, with Plant expecting traffic to enter and exit the site from the north. Aside from possible barricades in a street in front of the site, Plant said there would be no further road closures in the area for on-site events.

This concept rendering represents a new Milwaukee site, the Madison-based FPC Live site developer and operator expects to open in the second half of 2023. The 108,000-square-foot facility, which has yet to be named, will be built from from scratch on a 1.25-acre lot owned by Summerfest's parent company, Milwaukee World Festival Inc., in the Third Ward.

“Not for this neighborhood”

Reactions from participants in the open session were mixed – with two people, one for and one critic, going into a lively back-and-forth Tuesday night.

“I agree it’s a great idea but not for this neighborhood,” said a concerned resident, prompting a pro-venue attendant to respond, “You’ll love when it opens, you’ll be there and I’ll see. a smile on your face. “

Asked about fears that spectators would take all free parking on Erie Street before paying for parking at nearby lots, Plant said Frank Productions would “work to determine the most optimal legal option” to minimize that impact.

A resident of a nearby condo expressed concern that her view would now be obstructed by the site’s west wall.

“There are a lot of options to make the building as low-key and attractive as possible,” Plant said in response.

There was also the question of whether a new venue would take business away from existing Milwaukee venues, such as the Rave, Shank Hall, and the Pabst and Riverside theaters.

“This is not a Milwaukee site versus another Milwaukee site,” Plant said. “This is Milwaukee capable of attracting the kind of entertainment that a city of this size wants and deserves.”

Part of PFC Live’s big push in Milwaukee

FPC Live is one of the largest concert organizers in the world, ranking 33rd in ticket sales for 2021 according to the concert publication Pollstar. Frank Productions, established in 1964, sold a controlling interest to Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, in 2018. Live Nation does not have a controlling interest in FPC Live, Plant said in Tuesday’s meeting. , and Frank continues to operate as a freelance business.

Since the sale to Live Nation, Frank Productions has grown significantly, especially in Milwaukee. Here Frank’s FPC Live frequently acts as a promoter of Fiserv Forum concerts and, outside of Summerfest, exclusively books concerts at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater and BMO Harris Pavilion at Maier Festival Park.

The proposed 108,000 square foot site would be located south of the Summerfest administration buildings and east of Erie and Jackson streets. Summerfest’s parent company, the non-profit Milwaukee World Festival Inc., owns the land; the land would be leased to Marquee Ventures, a real estate company associated with Frank Productions, who would develop the property, with FPC Live managing the location.

An opening is tentatively scheduled for the second half of 2023, with construction due to start this year. But FPC Live would need approvals from the Historic Third Quarter Architectural Review Board and the City of Milwaukee Harbor Commissioners Board first.

Last month, the architectural review board reviewed the initial plans for the site, designed by Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects. Plant Tuesday said the amended plans would be ready for further assessment at the February 16 review committee meeting.

The next meeting of the Council of Port Commissioners will take place on February 10.

This concept render describes a proposed new music venue for the Third Ward that would open in the second half of 2023 and be operated by Madison-based promoter FPC Live.  The design was initiated by Eppstein Uhen Architects of Milwaukee.  A precise figure has not been announced.  While awaiting authorizations, construction could begin in early 2022.

Ald. Robert Bauman, whose district includes the third ward, brought forward a motion to rezone the land on which the site would operate with the city’s development department, in an effort to ensure Milwaukee City Council has a say. in the project before construction.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee voted to begin the possible zoning change. If approved by the full council, a detailed zoning proposal could be submitted to the Planning Commission on March 7 and to the committee on April 12.

Even if the project were reclassified to a class that did not allow theaters, the venue proposal would be protected under the current zoning, according to a notice from City Attorney Tearman Spencer.

An operating site will also need alcohol and public entertainment licenses from the joint council licensing committee. However, there might be another way for the board to have a say in the proposal.

The project, as currently conceived, would have its main entrance facing east towards the Maier Festival Park.

This would apparently require an easement from the city’s port commissioners council, which controls a private service road at the development site.

While such easements are generally not considered by the Common Council, Bauman hinted that the council could vote on it.

The project could be redesigned so that its entrance faces west, towards rue Érié, allowing development to take place without easement.

During Tuesday night’s meeting, Plant said Frank Productions did not want to go that route, stressing that east-facing foot and car traffic was preferable for area residents.

Questions about the role of Summerfest

At Tuesday night’s meeting, Bauman also raised another possible point of debate.

Plant said Frank Productions is in talks with Milwaukee World Festival Inc., which rents the grounds for its own events, so it can access more than 1,800 event spaces at the site.

But most of those parking lots are actually owned by the city, which can weigh heavily, Bauman suggested.

Frank Productions and the Milwaukee World Festival are also discussing using the area in front of the south gate of Maier Festival Park for a designated carpooling pickup and drop-off point for on-site events, Plant said.

The site would not be easily accessible by public transport, Plant admitted, which Bauman criticized on Tuesday night.

Bauman also slammed the Milwaukee World Festival on Tuesday, asking why a tax-exempt organization was dabbling in the rental of real estate and suggesting that the organization could lobby Frank Productions regarding the concerns of area residents about the location. .

“Could the (Milwaukee World Festival) take a more proactive role in doing more to respect the neighborhood? Of course they could, absolutely,” Bauman said.

PFC Live will be hosting a second public contribution session from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on January 18 at the Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St. Capacity is limited and masks are required. The meeting will also be held on Zoom.

Tom Daykin of Sentinel Journal contributed to this report.

Contact Piet at (414) 223-5162 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @pietlevy or Facebook on

Piet also talks about concerts, local music and more on “TAP’d In” with Evan Rytlewski. Listen to it at 8 p.m. Thursdays on WYMS-FM (88.9) or wherever you get your podcasts.

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