Harambee & Riverwest

Since the 1930s, Harambee has been a hub for African American culture and heritage. Originally settled by German immigrants in the 1800s, the African American community grew over the years and reached its height by the 1970s. Harambee was particularly attractive to working class families because of the modest and tidy single-family homes and proximity to downtown.

Neighborhood Area: Harambee is bordered by Holton Street to the east, Interstate – 43 to the west, North Avenue to the south, and Capitol Drive to the north. Riverworks Development Corporation mainly focuses in the area north of Burleigh Street.


The homes in Harambee are mainly single family unites or duplexes. Though there are some examples of newer construction, the majority of these homes were built when the area was settled by Polish and German immigrants, between the late 1800s and the 1920s. As a result, there are examples of unique Milwaukee architecture, such as the Polish flat and the Milwaukee Bungalow. Many homes have retained the built-in cabinets and leaded glass features that make these homes distinctive.

In 2016, the listing price range for homes in the area was $2,500 to $114,900, with a median list price of $58,700. The median close price was $35,450.

Beerline Targeted Investment Neighborhood (TIN) Program
Concordia from Holton to 1st / Keefe from Holton to 4th / Beerline Trail from Keefe to Melvina.

For Owner-Occupants
The Home Rehabilitation-TIN Loan Program offers forgivable, low-interest, and deferred payment rehab loans to income-qualified owner-occupants in a TIN. Interest rates and terms are tied to income and family size.

Homeowners are eligible for up to a $15,000 forgivable loan provided it is matched at least 1 for 1 with a payback or deferred payment loan provided through the TIN loan program.  The $15,000 forgivable loan turns into a grant (i.e. is forgiven) after 5 years. The property must meet building code requirements upon completion of the rehab. Program guidelines apply. Program priorities include:

  • Exterior repairs such as roofing, siding, porch repairs
  • Lead paint abatement including replacement windows
  • Energy conservation
  • Plumbing, electrical, heating
  • Kitchen, bath, and other rehab projects are possible

Challenge Fund
The City of Milwaukee and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) have committed to the rehabilitation of 15 City owned properties in the Harambee neighborhood for homeownership.  The transformation of these properties from nuisances into family-friendly residences will benefit not only the neighbors adjacent to these homes but the neighborhood as a whole. Contact us If you or someone you know might be interested in making one of these turnkey properties your new home.


The Beerline Recreational Trail cuts northwest through both the Harambee and Riverwest neighborhoods. This trail is used by cyclists and pedistrians, both recreationally and as transportation to nearby jobs and shopping. Following an old path of rail line and breweries in the area, the trail serves as a space for musical and poetry performances, cooking classes and community meals, youth activities and art installations like “Streetlights.” The 9.1 acre Clinton Rose Park features summer softball leagues and a Senior Center where neighbors can stay connected.

Milwaukee Public Library’s Martin Luther King branch offers an African American collection with current and historical fiction and nonfiction and a Milwaukee Leaders collection highlighting community role models. Proposed designs have blended a new library space with residential units above, but whichever one is chosen, the goal is to make the nearly 50-year-old library a robust and nurturing “third space” (home is “first” and work is “second”) for a developing community.

Interested in growing your own food? Riverwest and Harambee play home to two urban gardens where residents are welcome to rent their own plots or volunteer. Victory Garden Initiative’s 1.5-acre space features a small production farm, berry patches, an urban orchard and community Darius Simmons Garden features 36 beds, 50 pots, 2 hoop houses, a meadow and a labyrinth, the Garden harvested 800 pounds of produce in the past two years, including over 8,000 ears of corn!

Pete’s Fruit Market  a culturally diverse and affordable array of produce, meat, and groceries at its new 13,700-square-foot store.

The Riverworks Center is made up of two dynamic organizations working together to positively impact businesses and neighborhood residents in our target areas. The coordinated efforts of Riverworks Development Corporation (RDC) and the Riverworks Business Improvement District (BID) were paramount to reviving Milwaukee’s northeast industrial corridor which was devastated by the exodus of major national corporations up until the early 1990s, including Square D, Johnson Controls, Coca-Cola, and American Motors Corporation. Hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars have been added to our local economy in large part because of our active business development strategies. Over the years Riverworks has adapted and grown to better address the expanding needs of our businesses and resident neighbors in the Harambee and Riverwest communities.

To learn more about Riverworks Development Corporation and their services, contact Amy Rohan at amyr@riverworksmke.org or amyr@riverworksmke.org.

Riverworks Development Corporation
526 E Concordia Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53212