Brown Deer, Wisconsin

March 26, 2024

Brown Deer, Wisconsin

A small village offers big opportunities


Offering the ideal community in which to live, work, and play

Brown Deer, a beautiful and quaint incorporated village is ideally set about 13 miles northwest of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Boasting a current population of 12, 507 as of the latest 2020 census, the village can lay claim to a fascinating history that still makes up the fabric of its way of life today.

Originally settled in the early 1800s by Yankees from New York and then by German and Irish immigrants, its location on the Milwaukee River provided both wood for homes and fertile soil for crops. There are many stories about how Brown Deer got its name, all of which are colorful, and none of which can be corroborated.

Brown Deer was incorporated in 1955 to prevent it from being annexed by Milwaukee. A series of its annexations, followed by court-ordered divestments over the next several years, changed its area from an original 1.8 square miles to 22 square miles, and finally to its present size of 4.5 square miles.

Proud of its diversity

Today, Brown Deer prides itself on being a very diverse community, with a mixture of races and ethnicities, older residents and newcomers, and younger and more mature families.

Village President Wanda J. Montgomery

“We are one of the most diverse communities in the county, as well as the state,” says Village President Wanda J. Montgomery. “The blend works very well.”

Village Manager, Tyler Burkart asserts, “We did a community survey in 2023 and there were 15 different perception-type questions that we asked.”

“The one area that received the highest perception rating was ‘embracing diversity.’ That goes to show the high value that residents and community members see how well we do that here in Brown Deer,” he adds.

Brown Deer is also diverse regarding its commercial, retail, and industrial sectors. Its three largest employers include Badger Meter, a leading innovator and manufacturer of flow measurement, and water quality and control products; TAPCO, a manufacturer and distributor of roadway safety products; and FIS Global, a Fortune 500 company that provides technology and services to communities, businesses, and financial institutions.

“Those are three big anchors for the community,” notes Community Development Director, Nate Piotrowski.

“Badger Meter predates the Village’s incorporation; they have been here since the 1940s. They make all the water meters that are in your house; you probably have one of their meters down in your basement. And they’ve been a pillar in the community.”

“TAPCO was looking to grow and found a location here in Brown Deer about a decade ago. They make traffic control devices. They’ve been very successful and are continuing to expand, constantly recruiting new employees; same with Badger Meter.”

“FIS is one of those companies that you wouldn’t recognize what it does,” Piotrowski continues. “But it’s essential to everyone’s daily life, in that they have a huge data center here, where they process credit card transactions for pretty much every credit card transaction east of the Mississippi.”

“We are blessed to have them here. Because of their data needs, we have one of the best, most robust, built-out, high-speed data networks and infrastructure in the entire country. We’ve been told that there’s only one other location, somewhere in Arizona, which can compete with the amount of fiber optic and data that is flowing through Brown Deer.”

New businesses arrive

Lately, some new companies have moved to the area, increasing the Village’s economic activity.

“Cutting Edge Staffing is new to Brown Deer, and is occupying a formerly vacant property,” Piotrowski adds.

“We’ve also had ETE REMAN, an engine and transmission repair company move in. We’ve seen other businesses expand, such as Critical Room Control moving from one small facility and now occupying a much bigger one. They make medical equipment for temperature and safety controls in hospitals.”

On the retail side, several new eateries have been established. “In the last year, we have had a restaurant called Café Corazon, which is a Mexican restaurant,” Montgomery reports. “It’s busy all the time. We also have Urban Beets, which is a vegan restaurant. Last year, we got a new sports bar – Cream City Sports Bar that has drawn a lot of people not only from Brown Deer but from the surrounding communities. And we soon will have a Starbucks; they’ll be breaking ground in the spring.”

A plan for expansion

New growth in Brown Deer, with the expectation of more to come, has followed the trajectory envisioned in the Village’s Master Plan, first promulgated in 2010, and updated in 2023. “It focused on utilizing our original village, which is an area just to the south and west of the intersection of Brown Deer Road and Green Bay Road,” Piotrowski explains.

“It was the historic area of settlement in the community, where you have buildings from the turn of the last century: houses from the 1920s, a stagecoach inn from the late 1800s that was turned into a bar and restaurant. Our plan identified that neighborhood as the one to emphasize and build around. It was the only place that you could call Brown Deer’s downtown.” Redevelopment projects back then included redoing the streets, adding sidewalks and street lights, and moving the Village’s public works facility from the area and relocating it, which opened up land for housing, businesses, and green space.

“We now have 134 apartment units; we have a new public green space called Community Square; and a community building that we’re looking to lease to a local bar/restaurant operator,” Piotrowski says.

“Then, we had another location, an old church and school building from the 1930s that had fallen on hard times. It was dilapidated, so we worked with a local developer to raze it and put in townhomes and apartments – 175 units on that site.”


Riding the wave

Now, the Village continues to build upon that earlier momentum with plans to expand into surrounding areas.

A major project contributing to the fulfillment of its growth agenda was a $20 million re-configuring of the intersection at Brown Deer and Green Bay Roads.

“It was a freeway-style overpass with on-ramps,” Piotrowski recounts. “We worked with the Department of Transportation, and we were able to get them to put the intersection at grade, which opened up land adjacent to that site, and on one of the corners of the original village.”

“We incentivized that area with a new Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) district, and we’re starting to see a lot of interest from the development community. One of the developers has acquired land outside of that neighborhood adjacent to this intersection and is looking to do more commercial and residential development.”

Brown Deer’s Master Plan document also addressed the need to grow the Village’s residential market.

“The plan suggested we look at a diversification of housing types,” Piotrowski says.

“Don’t just look at apartment style buildings; don’t focus only on seniors; don’t focus solely on workforce housing, but perhaps mix in some affordable units with market-rate units. It also said to add some density but be sure to bring in some of that commercial activity that our residents have said they would love to have.”

“We are trying to guide the development community to these key sites around the node at Brown Deer and Green Bay Roads. We’d like to see some residential but we’re open to mixed-use.”

“A project that we just recently approved is just across the street from our original village on the north side of Brown Deer Road. We have a one-acre commercial out-lot and then we have 148 cottage-style apartments proposed. I see that kind of being our future as we look to redevelopment. That is what we’re hoping to see.”

“For us, it’s a very exciting time, full of opportunity,” he adds.

“The Village leadership have been in lockstep with the goals of that Master Plan document that suggested from the beginning to look at the original village neighborhood as a great resource.”

Amenities abound

Brown Deer provides many amenities for its residents and visitors. The Walter Schroeder Aquatic Center boasts an Olympic-sized pool, as well as diving boards and platforms; there is a trampoline park; a bowling alley; and a private golf course. There are three community parks in Brown Deer: Badger Meter River Park is a 2.75-acre park located along the Milwaukee River with access for canoe and kayak launching; Fairy Chasm Park is a 10-acre park primarily designed for youth baseball and soccer; and the Village Park & Pond, a 10.8-acre park located behind Brown Deer Village Hall, is the site of many of the Village’s community events.

Danielle Gross, Parks and Recreation Director, is in charge of the parks and the events. “Our main focus is making sure that we are addressing the needs of the community,” she says.

“We partner with different organizations throughout the year, like the school district for Black History Month. We also work closely with the North Shore Fire Department, and we are a member of the North Shore Chamber of Commerce.”

Parks and Recreation also manages the July 4th celebration, the holiday season’s tree lighting ceremonies, and the outdoor summer music series.

“In our area, we come together in these community events and make connections. I believe that’s why a lot of people move here.”

Gross adds that her department recently adopted its own comprehensive outdoor recreation plan. “We are looking to implement more trails and more nature-based opportunities within our community,” she shares. Brown Deer is currently connected to multiple neighboring communities by the Oak Leaf Trail, a paved 135-mile, multi-use recreational trail system that encircles Milwaukee County, connecting all its major parks. The Village is in the process of building a brand-new park at the Trail’s ten-mile marker, called, appropriately enough, Ten Mile Park.

“It’s a $2.4 million park that will function as a trailhead,” says Piotrowski. “And it will include features that are otherwise not available in our existing park system, such as a nature play area, a skateboard plaza, a pump track for bicycles, restrooms and changing facilities, and bike repair facilities.”

Ready for more growth

Going forward, Piotrowski says that there are a few infrastructure needs that still need to be addressed, including some sewer, water, and road projects in the newly available areas around the recent intersection redesign. “But, by and large, the big projects that we’ve needed to do, all of the rebuilding and resurfacing, and reconstruction of the original village [is complete].”

“If you look at all the communities in the Milwaukee metropolitan area, I don’t think there is one that does a better job of providing a diverse community in which to live, work, and play than Brown Deer,” Burkart proffers. “I also think that’s a core reason why we received the award of being an All-American City a few years ago – for the diversity here as well as the opportunities”.

Village President Montgomery agrees and has the last word: “I’m excited to be here in Brown Deer,” she states. “There are so many opportunities for us to do so much more. And I’m here for all of it.”


Brown Deer, Wisconsin

WHAT: An incorporated Village in Milwaukee County

WHERE: Northwest of Milwaukee, in the southeast part of the state



F Street

F Street invests and maintains ownership stakes in businesses across several verticals, including real estate lending, development & acquisition, and emerging market technologies. We provide accredited investors with access to our easy-to-use platform for investing in alternative real estate assets and funds.

Cafe Corazon –

Cafe Corazon is passionate about creating homemade, Latin-inspired food.  Established in 2009, we offer a hybrid menu to satisfy both meat and plant-based diners.  We are committed to sourcing locally and operating our restaurants sustainably.  Come dine with us in Riverwest, Bay View, and Brown Deer, each with seasonal outdoor seating.

Infinite Gymnastics –

Located in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, Infinite Gymnastics has been proudly serving the community for over 25 years, offering gymnastics training for students of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities. After obtaining new ownership in March of 2020, Infinite Gymnastics was forced to shut down due to the pandemic. However, it is now set to open a second location in March 2024.

Brown & Brown –

Art Therapy House, Inc. –

Parkview Pub –

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