June is the week of new parks in Milwaukee! In addition to the Near West Side’s latest addition to the Harley-Davidson Campus, Davidson Park, on Friday, June 28, downtown Milwaukee welcomed its newest green space: Vel R. Phillips Plaza.


The Plaza is located at 401 West Wisconsin Avenue, between North 5th Street and Vel Phillips Avenue, located directly across from the newly expanded Baird Center. The park is part of a completely redefined convention center district. With the recently completed $456 million expansion to Baird Center now offering convention attendees an unparalleled event experience, the new park gives attendees the opportunity to convene in the spacious public place.


The 30,000-square-foot park is the perfect oasis from the bustling downtown area, designed to be a great place to get together with a friend, take a break from convention sessions, host farmers markets and food trucks, and hold many more events. Vel R. Phillips Plaza is also a hub for the city’s public transit, including a Milwaukee County Connect 1 East-West Bus Rapid Transit station and the potential for a future landing for The Hop, the city’s streetcar. This further encourages visitors and locals alike to explore Milwaukee’s many neighborhoods.

This fall, the park will also open a 2,900-square-foot coffee shop, giving park visitors a new go-to space for a little pick-me-up and delicious bites just steps away from everything downtown.


The park celebrates the life of Milwaukee’s Civil Rights icon, Vel R. Phillips. The Plaza is a unique gathering space combining functional transportation with engaging features that contribute to the area’s ongoing development. Phillips was the first African American and first woman elected to the Milwaukee Common Council, the first female judge in Milwaukee County and the first black judge in the state of Wisconsin. An extremely influential leader, Phillips dedicated much of her life to fighting for equal opportunities, education and social justice for minorities in Milwaukee. Through original City-commissioned art installations and a series of informational kiosks, the Plaza will honor Phillips and share her story. To learn more about Vel R. Phillips, check out our profile of her life and impact on Milwaukee on our Vel R. Phillips’ centennial birthday celebration blog.