Preparations underway ahead of President Biden’s visit to Milwaukee

For the first time since 2018, a sitting president will spend the night here in Milwaukee.
Posted at 10:53 AM, Mar 13, 2024
and last updated 2024-03-13 11:53:00-04

MILWAUKEE — Steel barricades, neon orange road-closure signs, and “no-parking” covers on parking meters in downtown Milwaukee are all signs that an important visitor is on their way.

For the first time since 2018, a sitting president will spend the night here in Milwaukee.

The White House said in a press release that President Joe Biden will be in town on Wednesday, March 13, and on Thursday, March 14. He will deliver remarks regarding infrastructure, including announcing $36.6 million in funding to redesign 6th Street in Milwaukee. The design will work to make the corridor more pedestrian and public transit friendly. It is one of 40 projects nationwide receiving funding for transportation.

After, the President will participate in a campaign event.

Most of the preparations are centered around the Pfister Hotel, a popular stay for sports teams and other big names.

“The Pfister is the go-to place for presidential visits. I’ve seen President Obama, President Reagan, and President Clinton— I’ve gone through this with every president in town for the past twenty years,” Bill DeLind said.

He owns DeLind Fine Art Appraisals across the street from the Pfister and has mixed reactions on the visits.

“My customers don’t live in the block. They come from the suburbs, they come from a long way away. It hurts.”

Others say the President’s visit might do the opposite.

“Hopefully that brings some people downtown to boost business a bit,” Zach Dott, the General Manager at SportClub, said. It’s a bar across from the Pfister.

He said a secret service agent visited him the week earlier to share the road in front of the bar would be closed from Wednesday afternoon to Thursday afternoon.

“It’s exciting. There’s a big election coming up and the RNC this summer. This is kind of a precursor to a big summer ahead,” Dott said.

While some business owners were aware of the president's visit, others found out for the first time Tuesday. The red 'no parking covers' on Milwaukee Street's meters were Tru Tyson's first clue the President was coming to town.

"I had no knowledge. I found out this morning when I was coming into work and saw the red bags covering all the meters," Tyson said.

The stylist at Milwaukee Street Barbershop has dealt with tough traffic from high profile visits before and says it'll be an adjustment but shouldn't deter business.

​"The only way it's affecting people is increasing walk times since they can't park on the street right by us," said Tyson. "They might be a little late cause they're running from around the corner, or two blocks over, but other than that, no real problems."

A few storefronts down from the barbershop, Joshua Jones owns the store BrokeLife and says he's gearing up for a chaotic day.

"It's going to be pandemonium tomorrow," laughed Jones "It's gonna be a lot of blocked off areas downtown."

When asked how he'll adapt to the traffic changes his answer was simple: "I'm going to take advantage of it. Presidential discounts!"