Milwaukee south side urban farm would feature seafood, veggies--with locations in other states.

A urban farm could be coming to what's now a parking lot just off West Historic Mitchell Street on Milwaukee's south side.
A urban farm could be coming to what's now a parking lot just off West Historic Mitchell Street on Milwaukee's south side.

An urban farm planned for Milwaukee's south side would feature fish, shrimp and vegetables − and serve as a model for similar developments in other states.

Beyond Organic Corp. is proposing the five-story, 85,000-square-foot building at 716 W. Windlake Ave., just south of West Historic Mitchell Street.

The Common Council's Zoning, Neighborhoods and Development Committee on Tuesday endorsed a proposal to grant Beyond Organic an exclusive right to negotiate a possible purchase of the city-owned parking lot.

That right would run through Nov. 30, with a three-month extension option, if approved by the council at its Feb. 7 meeting.

That would give time for Beyond Organic, a nonprofit group, to approach foundations, both in Milwaukee and across the nation, to fund the development, said Jason Korb, who's the project architect.

Korb spoke with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel after the zoning committee vote. He's been working with Beyond Organic, which is led by Laura Michele, for about 18 months.

The urban farm would use a recirculating system known as aquaponics. That system uses fish waste to help fertilize produce, with the produce helping to filter the water used to raise the fish.

Beyond Organic's farm would produce fish, shrimp and vegetables, Korb said. The plans also call for retail, dining and event space as well as classrooms.

Also, the building would be constructed mass timber, Korb said.

That process uses layers of wood pressed together to create columns, beams and other building frame components.

Apartments, offices and other buildings made from timber provide a lower carbon footprint than conventional construction. They also can create a more attractive atmosphere, featuring exposed wood interiors.

Korb, who operates Korb + Associates, was the project architect on the 25-story, 259-unit Ascent apartment tower, which New Land Enterprises LLC opened last summer at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. It is the world's tallest mass timber building.

Beyond Organic hopes to do similar urban farms in other states, Korb said, including Florida and Tennessee.

"The idea is you need to go to food deserts," Korb said, referencing the term for neighborhoods which lack grocery stores with fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods.

City officials hope to see detailed plans approved within a year if Beyond Organic can obtain funding, said David Misky, Redevelopment Authority assistant executive director.

"We believe this could be the highest and best use for the land," said Common Council President Jose Perez, whose aldermanic district includes the site.

Tom Daykin can be emailed at and followed on InstagramTwitter and Facebook.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Milwaukee urban farm with seafood, veggies could be replicated