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Harley-Davidson announces park project on Near West Side

A rendering of a public park with a circular design featuring an illuminated element at its center surrounded by trees.
Hand-out / Harley-Davidson, Inc.
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Harley-Davidson, Inc.
Heatherwick Studio's rendering of "The Hub" public park to be located at Harley-Davidson's Juneau Avenue headquarters.

Well-known for the distinctive rumble of its bikes, Harley-Davidson sent a different type of good vibrations Wednesday morning by announcing plans to construct a multi-use public park on its Juneau Avenue campus.

The standout part of the project is what the company called “The Hub” — an event space roughly 272 feet wide with tiered seating. According to a release, the area will feature “10 types of locally sourced brick, natural wany-edge timber and weathered steel with a beautifully warm patina.”

Making the space even more inviting is the amount of greenery involved. Plans call for 120 native plant species (20 trees and 100 perennials), plus a nature playground, market street and “contemplative garden.”

The project stems from an effort led by the Harley-Davidson Foundation to pull together community members and other stakeholders so they could create a long-term vision for the neighborhood. Green space emerged as a priority, and the foundation commissioned Heatherwick Studio to craft a design. The studio’s work spans the globe — including several projects with Google — and now includes Milwaukee.

"Our goal is to turn this historic factory land into a new public park for the people of Milwaukee,” Thomas Heatherwick, founder and director of Heatherwick Studios, said in the release. “We want to make an exciting community space where people can come together with friends and family, and experience the wildness of nature alongside spaces for food, performance and play. The ambition is to highlight and celebrate renewed life in the Near West Side of this very special city.”

Next steps include a groundbreaking in spring 2023, with the goal of opening the park to the public by summer 2024.