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.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

New Jobs - Continued Improvement in Milwaukee

I just read this at
Area added 8,500 jobs in past year... Milwaukee's net job gain in the last year ranked behind only three other metropolitan areas in nearby states.
It is great to see steady improvement in the Milwaukee job market. That doesn't mean everyone who wants a job has one yet, but it is a good sign. I still see people struggling to find jobs. In one apartment building, I had 3 different people lose their jobs last month. But I also saw several find new jobs throughout the year. Many of them at new businesses opening up near their home.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Center Street & Appleton Avenue

The area around Center Street where Appleton Avenue crosses diagonally (around 58th Street) is the topic for today. Center Street's commercial and residential quality of life varies greatly along Center Street as you head west out of downtown Milwaukee. It goes from desolate and open to strong business corridor, to bars on the windows and boarded up buildings, back to strong businesses, then into the unsure from about 50th to 60th streets. Just west of there Center Street turns more residential as it heads into Wauwatosa. This corner is almost an unwalled border between Milwaukee and Wauwatosa.

Check out some demographic info at: The intersection keeps busy all day, with 30,000 vehicles daily, as Appleton Ave. cuts through just a few miles after Highway 41 ended on Lisbon Avenue. There is BP(?) gas station here on the South East corner that is always swamped with traffic.

Used car dealers abound both at the intersection and along Center Street. There are lots of fully leased commercial storefronts along Appleton Ave to the north. On the North East corner is a nicely appointed attorney's office. Right next door to that is a building with 2 storefronts that have been vacant for at least the past year. Every few months some new signs are put up for a smoke shop or a clothing store, but I have yet to see any business being transacted! This particular building seems to have no problem keeps its upstairs apartments rented up.

Why is it so hard to attract commercial tenants here? There is constant foot traffic, tons of car traffic, and successful commercial spaces just a few blocks in any direction. Is it the location, the advertising, poor businesses, or the owner of the building? I don't have an answer for that. But I can see how it is difficult to find the right commercial tenant. The gas station across the street becomes almost a hangout on weekend nights. The attorney next door doesn't draw much foot traffic. The local residents have other commercial options available along Appleton Ave. So, maybe this building is just stuck, never to be fully utilized! Or maybe, it just needs the right owner with the right businesses to draw a small crowd from the local used car dealers.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Where to Live in Milwaukee: Transition Neighborhoods

I got a request from a reader who is moving to Milwaukee. Here is her request (edited):

My husband just accepted a job and I am baffled about where to live in Milwaukee. I would love to be in a transitioning neighborhood for both our financial benefit and the neighborhood's but as we have two young kids we can't take chances on safety. I thought you just might have some insight. We are looking for a single family home on a quiet street. Let me know if you've got any direction.
What a great question! My response turned out pretty long, so I hope you like reading!

Where is the job? How long does he want to drive?

How much safety and how quiet do you want your street to be? Transition neighborhoods by definition are a mix of people who lost a neighborhood they love, the crime and drug ridden people they lost it to, jobless, people who are banded together to drive improvements, and families who take a bit of risk to become part of the city rather than flee to suburbia. Only you can decide what the risk/reward tradeoff is for you family.

Where are you from? Have you lived in an urban city before?

Also, just to warn you, I am not a real estate agent. The suburbs may be the right place for you, but if not, there are some great areas to consider...

Bayview: this has seen a very trendy improvement over the past few years. You aren't going to get in early, but there are still good deals. Especially if you are handy enough to update a house with 1920's kitchen appliances! Crime is pretty low here. It is a mix of young couples and elderly, along with many who still have a hard time putting food on the table. Bayview even has their own summer party. Check out the Bash and click over to the link for the bayview neighborhood association here:

Brewers Hill: this area continues to see steady improvement. There are still some crack heads around, but there are also a lot of great renovation projects going on. Roots restaurant and the condos nearby are great highlights of this neighborhood. They are also improving parks and access. The view of Milwaukee from up here is quite special. Prices are already reflecting the improvement though, so don't expect a bargain price. Check out the neighborhood plan here:

Harley Davidson: a number of years ago Harley faced a difficult situation. The 'ghetto' had grown into HD headquarters neighborhood. Should they move (and abandon their city) or stay (and risk the lives of their employees)? Tough call. Well, HD decided to stay and got involved in improving the neighborhood. Things continue to improve here. There are some amazing homes which have been renovated. There are some really nice blocks, and the improvements are expanding. This neighborhood is still right in the middle of some rough areas, but the community involvement has helped to improve in pockets. This is a great place to find your risk/reward tradeoff. Stick to the already improved blocks or venture out a bit further to the edge of the mix. Hopefully, the 27th street SoHi district will eventually merge with the expanding scope of improvements here. Check out:

These are just a couple of the great neighborhoods working as a community towards revitalization. It is movements like these that show the strength of Milwaukee. There are many more. Drive around. Look for signs of improvement. Fresh paint. Businesses opening nearby. More flowers than weeds.

And for crime, don't forget to check out Milwaukee's online statistics map. This is a great resource to take the guess work out of the process. You select the crimes to view and find the right place for you. Check it out here:

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

76th & Good Hope - Update

I spent a little more time at 76th and Good Hope Road because I was bothered that I didn't know a few of the business names and was worried I didn't do a good enough review. The extra time still confirms my last post, that there are some great developments, but the intersection needs some work!

The South side of Good Hope frontage looks great, with Andy's and Home Depot's outlot building. The best of those outlots is the brand new Starbucks. 76th street still needs to be cleaned up though. That one old Chinese restaurant really looks bad.

The gas station I couldn't remember on the northwest corner -- the name of it is "Good Hope Mart". I guess that's why I couldn't remember the name. It looks horrible too! Anyone want to own a gas station? Just look across the street at Andy's to see what is possible. Andy's always has at least 10 cars at the station itself, plus people in and out at the small units in the strip.

I also said the NE corner was the least utilized. That is only kind of true. It actually has a large strip mall deep set from the corner. It just doesn't look very nice. It fits right in with the "Good Hope Mart". The US Bank right on corner is plain, but would look nice if the rest of the corner was more attractive.

In summary, a new gas station, an updated stripmall, and few renovated buildings would make this an attractive commercial pull.