Planning Association Dubs Downtown Waukesha as 'Great Place in Wisconsin'

City planners and consultants receive high praise for Central City Master Plan.

Waukesha’s Central City Master Plan was recently recognized as an outstanding plan document by the Wisconsin Chapter of American Planning Association.

Waukesha’s Central City Master Plan was completed by the City of Waukesha and Graef-USA. APA recognizes outstanding work in the field of planning with awards presented at its annual conference. WI-APA solicits nominations from its membership in a number of areas including:

  • Urban Design
  • Neighborhood Planning
  • Planning Tool
  • Plan Document

Jurists commented that “Waukesha’s Central City Master Plan is an excellent example of planning rigor applied to multidisciplinary analysis with a practical result.”

City Planner Jennifer Andrews, stated that the plan is comprehensive and includes a chapter on implementation as well.

“The next step is to begin implementation of the plan and the Redevelopment Authority is excited to be leading those efforts,” Andrews said.

The timeline for implementation is 10 years.

Mark Smith, a planner with Graef, was one of the consultants working with the City staff and citizens to develop the plan. Mark passed away unexpectedly in August.

“Mark’s exhaustive efforts and expertise were critical to the development of the plan” Andrews stated. “The staff enjoyed work with Mark and the citizens of Waukesha will benefit from his insights and vision.”

The WI-APA also gives awards to communities that are Great Places in Wisconsin. This award category celebrates places of exemplary character, quality, and planning, including: great streets, great neighborhoods, and great public spaces.

Following the example of APA’s Great Places in America, the WI-APA wants to showcase the best places to live, work, socialize, and relax in Wisconsin. Downtown Waukesha was recognized this year as a Great Place in Wisconsin. Community Development Director Steve Crandell and Andrews accepted both awards on behalf of the city on Sept. 27.

 “We know that there are some very special things happening in Waukesha made possible through strong public/private partnerships,” Crandell said. “It is an honor to have those efforts be recognized by our planning peers.”

 “We are proud of this planning work as it will continue the momentum of renewal within our downtown,” said Mayor Jeff Scrima.


In 2010 the Waukesha Common Council approved funds to complete a new Central City Master Plan. The previous central city plan was completed in 1999 and according to Community Development Director Steven Crandell, more than 90 percent of that plan had been implemented.

“It had been 10 years since the city had gone through a visioning process to create a plan for the future of the Central City,” Crandell said. “Physical and financial realties change and the City needed an updated plan to guide the future of the Central City neighborhoods.”

Once the funding was approved the community development staff moved forward with an RFP and worked with a selection committee to ultimately select Graef – USA, Inc. to assist the City with the creation of a new Central City Master Plan.

The scope of the project was substantial and exhaustive. The study area not only included the downtown business district but also the neighborhoods surrounding the downtown. There was a focus on public participation and several public forums were held to gather input. The final plan included detailed market studies, redevelopment plans and important strategies to address gateway appearances, traffic movement and strengthen the fabric of the residential neighborhoods.

The plan was endorsed by the Redevelopment Authority and adopted by the Common Council in the spring of 2012.


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