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Northwestern Mutual Exec.: Community Deserves "Something Different" at O'Donnell Park

Jim Bauer
Credit Milwaukee County Parks
Map of O'Donnell Park

Northwestern Mutual hopes to purchase the O’Donnell parking garage and the public park space on top of it from Milwaukee County.

With construction underway on Northwestern Mutual’s new 32-story tower, the company anticipates it will add 1,900 additional jobs to its downtown Milwaukee headquarters.

The company says its plan for O’Donnell Park speaks to what the community wants.

"I would tell you that what was really the primary motivator was what could we do with O'Donnell to make that space somewhere where the community and our employees want to be," Sandy Botcher say. She's is Northwestern Mutual’s Vice President for Facility Operations.

While Northwestern Mutual says the new use will be much like the old use of the property - only better, others aren't so sure.

"There is a deed restriction on all the land north of Wisconsin Avenue running east to Lincoln Memorial Drive. But all the area of O'Donnell Park south of that, which is a goodly chunk of territory, there's no deed restriction," Urban Milwaukee editor Bruce Murphy told Lake Effect earlier this month. "So there is nothing to stop Northwestern Mutual from doing whatever they want with it."

The County Board is scheduled to take up the $14 million dollar offer on Thursday. 

Audrey Nowakowski hosts and produces Lake Effect. She joined WUWM in 2014.