Home Sweet Home
Bublr Bikes, a non-profit organization that operates a rapidly growing bike-sharing network in the Milwaukee area, will move its headquarters and bicycle maintenance facility into the Shops of the Grand Avenue, becoming the initial permanent tenant in the property’s redevelopment, it was announced Thursday.
Bublr is making the move to locate its office, maintenance and retail facilities at the center of its growing transportation network, said James Davies, Bublr’s acting executive director.
“With our new offices in the Grand Avenue, we will be close to customers, near potential bike-maintenance workers and at the center of our growing regional network in an area that is a gathering place and connector for all Milwaukeeans,” Davies said. “We’re also proud that we will be an anchor tenant in the revitalization of the Grand Avenue and tied to other nearby redevelopments, such as the Milwaukee Symphony’s planned relocation into the former Grand Theater across the street from us and the new Bucks arena just blocks away. This location will position Bublr to grow to become an even more viable transportation option for people all over Milwaukee.”
Bublr will be the first permanent tenant in the redevelopment plans of the Grand Avenue Mall. A new Bublr kiosk will be installed outside the Grand Avenue entrance, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., this year. A mini Bublr station may be installed inside the building itself, immediately outside the group’s offices.
The Bublr Bikes system is a public-private partnership between the City of Milwaukee and Bublr Bikes, with additional support from many other public and private partners. Since Summer 2014, Bublr Bikes, a Milwaukee-based not-for-profit, has launched 57 bike share stations in several City of Milwaukee neighborhoods and Wauwatosa. In coming years, the system plans to expand to over 100 stations and 800 Bublr Bikes in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, West Allis and Shorewood.
As part of a long-term lease, Bublr will take over 6,275 square feet in the Grand Avenue that will include the group’s offices, a facility to maintain its fleets of bikes, currently totaling 512, and a customer service counter offering walk-in assistance, system passes and Bublr merchandise. The new location is close to the Wisconsin Avenue entrance and next to Boston Store. The new Bublr space most recently housed a jewelry accessories store and previously a national record-store chain.
Bublr employs 5 people full time and from 9 to 15 part-time workers, up from 1 full-time employee when it launched in 2014.
The Shops of Grand Avenue, in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee, was created as an urban shopping plaza in the 1980s. In December 2015, The Aggero Group and Minneapolis developer Hempel Cos. bought the property. The new owners have announced plans to redevelop the Grand Avenue into a mixed-use project including retail, entertainment, office and other uses that will be unveiled in early 2017.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he was pleased by Bublr’s move to the Grand Avenue. “Bublr Bikes connects people with destinations all around Milwaukee,” Barrett said. “With today’s announcement, the organization is connecting with a location that is enjoying renewed vitality.”
Tony Janowiec, a principal of the Grand Avenue’s ownership team, said, “Bublr fits our redevelopment plans perfectly. When the opportunity came to provide Bublr a permanent home in the heart of downtown and Bublr’s network, we knew we had to make it a reality. Our redevelopment plans are all about what makes Milwaukee such a cool place to live and work, which has been Bublr’s goal from its inception. We are proud that they will now call the Grand Avenue home.”
Beth Weirick, CEO of Milwaukee Downtown, said, “Bublr Bikes is all about movement in this community and we are happy for them on their new move to the Shops of Grand Avenue. May they continue to momentum in moving the organization and their great service forward.”
Stacie Callies, executive director of the Westown Association, said, “Bublr Bikes is an important component of developing a comprehensive, integrated transportation system in Milwaukee. We are excited that Bublr has chosen to add to the positive momentum in Westown by locating its headquarters in the heart of the area at the Shops of Grand Avenue.
Bublr will be moving from space in the Schlitz Park office complex. Schlitz Park was one of Bublr’s original sponsors and made arrangements for space to allow for Bublr growth. “We offer our deepest gratitude to Schlitz Park partners Gary Grunau and Scott Sampson, who helped incubate Bublr by donating critically needed space at Schlitz for the past year and a half,” Bublr Board President Bruce Keyes said. “Our growth and current success would not be possible without their support.”
Bublr riders pay as little as $3 per 30-minute ride, or $15 monthly for unlimited 60-minute rides, returning their bikes to any system station. They pay with credit cards at station kiosks. Annual passes are also available. Bublr provides discounted and subsidized passes to a variety of corporate partners, students and City of Milwaukee Housing Authority residents.