Burnham Pointe Better Block
About Better Block
The City of West Allis partnered with Better Block Foundation, an urban design non-profit, to initiate revitalization efforts in the City’s Burnham Pointe district in the area of south 60th St. and W. Burnham St.
Better Block’s primary objectives for this area were to inspire neighbors and businesses to reimagine the public space in this corridor and empower those who reside here with the tools and knowledge to create usable community gathering spaces in the area. Past projects Better Block has initiated with other communities include converting a shopping center’s forgotten grassy area into a pop-up park in Montgomery County, Md; creating the world’s largest pop-up bike network in Macon, Ga; and rezoning a street in Dallas, Texas, to transform vacant buildings into businesses and create a walkable neighborhood. Better Block worked with each of these communities to mobilize neighbors to conceptualize and initiate the changes they wished to see. By working with these communities for several months, Better Block left the residents organized and prepared to complete the project they have begun and begin work on new projects in the future.
West Allis’ Burnham Pointe area was selected due to its potential as a destination area. With independent businesses, vibrant restaurants, and diverse population, Burnham Pointe is well positioned for residential and economic growth. The City’s partnership with Better Block was not funded through tax dollars but through its Capital Improvement Fund and Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds.
On May 16, 2019, Better Block visited the City for the first time to meet residents and share more about this project and the potential in Burnham Pointe. A survey was conducted at that time, which revealed residents loved the friendly, diverse feeling of their neighborhood but were concerned about heavy traffic and a lack of family-friendly amenities. This survey formed the basis of Better Block and the City's efforts over the following months.
During the summer of 2019, Better Block, the City, and community volunteers, led by resident Daysi Jimenez, worked to organize a community festival on Sept. 6 and 7 that would show the world how great Burnham Pointe could be. Projects included:
- Creating bike lanes to protect cyclists and pedestrians and help slow traffic
- Installing bump outs and bus bulbs to support the safety of transit riders and streamline traffic congestion
- Adding additional outdoor lighting
- Creating a food truck court and kids' play area to invite families to gather and linger in the neighborhood
- Building additional seating
- Placing planters in the area to add color and create green spaces
- Installing cafe seating by popular restaurants
- Inviting food trucks, musicians, and pop-up vendors to join the festival
On Sept. 6 and 7, the community's hard work paid off. Hundreds of people visited the Burnham Pointe area over the two day period to enjoy food, music, and family-friendly fun.
All of the projects implemented for the festival were temporary and intended to give the community a sample of what creativity and hard work can accomplish.