It's only been a few short years but Walker's Point has gone from a barren, industrial part of Milwaukee to one of the up and coming premier places to live, and Wednesday's opening of Cermak grocery store was a shining example of that.
"It will help jump start a neighborhood," said Mike Bousis, the owner of Cermak. "It will help sustain the neighborhood."
Sustainability is what the residents of Walker's Point hope to gain from Cermak. Yes, it is a place to stock their homes with groceries, but it is symbolic of where the neighborhood is headed.
"[Walker's Point has] become one of the hottest places to live, work and play," said Alderman Jose G. Perez, 12th District. "The grocery store is a key part of it. It's an anchor. We're excited for this 1st & Greenfield location because it's one of the bookends and we're seeing the missing teeth nearby getting filled up and reaching the demand of the neighborhood."
Residents and employees in the area are just excited to have something within walking distance.
"There was nothing," said Nelly Gillman, who's worked in Walker's Point for nine years. "We were in the middle of nothing. You come to work, you don't feel excited to get outside of the walls of your workplace because there's nothing else around."
"It was an empty lot for a long time," said Petar Vidosavljevic. "Not a whole lot going on around here but now they have apartments and shops and it looks like they'll be thriving."
For Perez, it's something the neighborhood has deserved.
"After nine years of being blighted, we're excited to see it be reborn, redeveloped and repurposed for the community," Perez said. "This is 100 jobs and it's fulfilling a need the neighborhood has."
The neighborhood has been asking for a grocery store for years. In a world where residents in the city are less likely to use their cars over walking or biking, having a grocery store within a short distance will attract even more people to the area. Outside of convenience, it does have other benefits.
"As the neighborhood continues to increase its density and the more people you have on the street, that deters crime," said Kevin Wondra, President of the Walker's Point Association. "That keeps criminals out of the neighborhood who make a habit of breaking into vehicles. The ability to have a store here on the southern end of Walker's Point is going to improve foot traffic and make Walker's Point even safer."
Wondra says a pharmacy may be next on the Walker's Point "wish list." However, he says he'll communicate with the neighborhood about what they want before pushing forward with any new plans.