In October, 2022, Harley-Davidson CEO Jochen Zeitz made news in both the business and motorcycle worlds when he talked about encouraging employee trust and strengthened work-from-home policies. Beyond that, though, came an additional (but related) piece of news: Harley, it seemed, was actively investigating how best to repurpose part of the campus at its Juneau Avenue headquarters in Milwaukee.
In December, 2022, Harley-Davidson approached the Milwaukee Common Council for approval of a certified survey map that it had recently commissioned. The map included two parking lots located just south of Harley headquarters, which had previously been used as employee parking lots. If everyone’s working from home, then they don’t really need all that space to park, do they?
On January 11, 2022, U.K.-based design firm Heatherwick Studio and Harley-Davidson officially dropped the curtain on the project. It’s going to be a massive community park, crafted to benefit both Harley-Davidson's employees and all in their surrounding Milwaukee community who care to use it. Heatherwick Studio will oversee the project, acting in the capacity of “Design Guardian,” while local Milwaukee firms HGA and Greenfire Management Services will be deeply involved in bringing it to life.
The heart of the park will be a sunken, multi-use amphitheater with tiered seating, called “The Hub.” The space will allow up to 700 motorcycles ample space to participate in rallies held at the space. Construction will involve 10 different types of locally-sourced brick, as well as 120 native plant species. Of those plants, 20 will be trees, and 100 will be perennials. A nature playground, contemplative garden, and a market street are also planned.
The Harley-Davidson Foundation is funding this project, but sponsorship and donor opportunities will also be made available in the future for additional project enhancements down the road.
“Milwaukee is the place we have proudly called home for 120 years. We want Harley-Davidson’s presence in Milwaukee to be more relevant than ever before, for our community, employees and our customers. It’s important to us to protect and enhance this part of our heritage in a way that is aligned to our strategy, ensuring that it will be relevant to generations to come,” Harley-Davidson chairman, president, and CEO Jochen Zeitz said in a statement.
“Kicking the project off in our 120th year underscores both the importance of the project and the commitment that we are making to Milwaukee. We are very proud by the work of the Harley-Davidson Foundation in spearheading this project, which builds on the $30 million donated by the Motor Company to the Foundation since 2020,” he concluded.
What’s the timeline for the project? Currently, plans are to move forward with breaking ground in spring of 2023. The park itself should be available for community use by summer of 2024.