Visualize Milwaukee

My goal is to help Visualize Milwaukee. In particular, I want to keep a pulse on some of the commercial and residential real estate in the area. I have a slant towards revitalizing underutilized properties and areas within the city of Milwaukee. Welcome to Visualize Milwaukee! Let me know what you think, or if there are any areas you want me to cover.

Location: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States

I am software engineer by trade and enjoy real estate development as way to improve our community and always see something new each day.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Airport: Layton and Howell

I saw another commercial building for sale along Howell Ave. A few months back I considered a small strip mall on the corner of Layton and Howell. I was told that intersection sees more traffic than any other in Milwaukee (or Wisconsin, I don’t remember for sure). I didn’t act on it because it was back set from the street and visibility was obstructed by another business. But this one that just I just saw is right on Howell, plain as day to see as you drive past. Per the city of Milwaukee, this building has just over 3000 sq. feet of space. It was purchased in 2005 for $225k. It is zoned LB2, and has a pantry operating in it now, which I think is for sale with the building. Do I want to own a Panty? Not particularly. But, if the business is making money, it may be a profitable way into a piece of real estate on one of the busiest streets in town. Of course, there is always more than one way to skin a cat! Maybe I could find someone else who’s looking to own a pantry – that could even turn a quick profit on the sale! Or, put in an offer for the property only, asking the owners to keep a lease for a few years. It would take more homework to determine the real value, but given the location, it’s worth looking at.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Northridge Mall Area

A few days ago I wrote about the prices on apartment buildings on Milwaukee's far NorthWest side. So, how did that all happen anyway - remember Northridge Mall? Well, the building is still there, it just doesn't have many shops in it anymore. Suprisingly, Brown Deer road between 76th and 91st street has had a big increase in commercial usage over the past couple years. Not much has gone on in Northridge, rather the new usage is right on the road. There are completely unused deep-set buildings along that stretch, but new buildings are going up in front of them! Walmart, Target, a brand new Enterprise car rental - all coming in recently. Most in new buildings though! Good for developers, bad for those unused buildings. But overall, good for the area as new businesses keep coming. Here is shot at the new out-building for Footlocker. So, what is going to happen to the deep-set large-box buildings? Sorry, I don't have an answer for that one!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Villard Avenue Business District

One area that continues to interest me is Villard Avenue. The Villard Avenue Business Improvement District continues to strive to retain its vibrance. This area seems to be in a continual state of “almost improving”. Every couple years a revitalization effort is started, yet no significant changes have been seen. That is both good and bad. On the “bad” side – they haven’t drawn any big businesses or massive investment. On the “good” side, businesses are staying and customers are still coming! The main street was improved significantly by the city a couple years back, which gives the area a very nice touch.

I have a photo here from last winter, showing some of the small businesses. The area between 34th street to 37th street is constantly busy. The businesses draw a steady stream of traffic. Finding parking on the street is usually tough, but the BID maintains a customer parking lot right in the middle of things. There is also a city lot just off the main drag on 35th street.

As you could imagine from the traffic, available retail space can be filled quickly. With a little effort, I had several businesses clamoring for available space. With strong lease rates! Offering to work with the potential tenants on layouts/renovation was a big plus, as many of them were expanding or just getting started. The residential units are easy to fill too. This neighborhood has a lot of pride in keeping things up and many residents are proud to have spent their lives here!

For a little history on this area and some of the efforts for revitalization check out these links:
1998: “Villard Ave. making a comeback”
2003: “Revival on Villard”

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bubble Burst - or Not? Far NorthWest Side Residential Multi-Units

It seems to be the in thing now to tell everyone how "I predicted the bubble burst in Real Estate." I'm not sure I'm ready to do that. Sure, its near impossible to get someone to buy a home around here, but so far it seems to be stopping there.

Rental properties are still going strong. From the listings I've been seeing, prices have still been appreciating this year. I was just looking at an 8 family on Milwaukee's NorthWest side at 97th and Brown Deer Road. Rents were around $540/month and the property was listed at $400k. Last year around this time, prices were about $370k-$385k.

As for the neighborhood, that is a couple blocks west of the North Meadows condo complex. Unfortunately, North Meadows is still pretty rough (check out this old article for a bit of history: It seemed like a long summer, with a rash of graffiti in the area during August. The worst of the problems seem to stay in the North Meadows, but problems do sometimes fall into the surrounding area. Rents are still strong though, and that seems to be helping keep prices going strong.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Starting Out - Condos on the Beach

Here we go. As the title says, my goal is to help Visualize Milwaukee. In particular, I want to keep a pulse on some of the commercial and residential real estate in the area.

Where should I start? How about this:
St. Francis. Who knew it was even here? Milwaukee is still in Condo-mania. But, how about a 2000+ square foot townhouse on Lake Michigan only 6 minutes from downtown. That is what I found in St. Francis when I stopped by the Park Shore development at Howell Avenue and Lake Drive. A great mix of entry level condo's to high-end townhouses. I found that 2000' townhouse for about $300,000: .

Its not downtown, but I felt like I entered a vacation resort! Close (right off 794), beach, views, clubhouse, and right on the south shore bike path.

Welcome to Visualize Milwaukee! Let me know what you think, or if there are any areas you want me to cover.