Last updated on July 7th, 2019 at 02:37 pm
Videos highlighting the recent BizTimes Milwaukee Commercial Real Estate and Development Conference can now be viewed on the BizTimes Milwaukee multimedia page.
The conference featured a panel of five national real estate investors talking about why their firms are making major investments in commercial real estate in the Milwaukee area. The combination of a better yield and quality real estate has drawn them and other national commercial real estate investors to the region, the panelists said.
With recent deals making headlines such as the U.S. Post Office complex in downtown Milwaukee selling to a Chicago-based developer to an Atlanta company building multiple apartment complexes in Southeastern Wisconsin, the trend of increased investment for out-of-state firms is not showing signs of slowing down.
“We’re able to find great sites and a more competitive market here,” said Richard Aaronson, president and co-founder of Atlanta-based Atlantic Realty Partners. “Brookfield is a premium suburb and the yield is a little better than in a typical premium real estate market.”
Aaronson, whose firm plans to build a 443-unit apartment development at 1775 N. Water St. in Milwaukee, a 236-unit apartment development in Wauwatosa and a 195-unit apartment development in Brookfield, was one of five panelists at the 13th annual BizTimes Milwaukee Commercial Real Estate and Development Conference. Click here to see a photo gallery of the event.
Other panelists included:
- Matt Garrison, managing principal of Chicago-based R2 Companies. The firm recently purchased the 1.1 million-square-foot, four-story U.S. Post Office complex in downtown Milwaukee for $13.1 million.
- Stephen Kanoff, founding partner, director and chief investment officer of Dallas-based Westmount Realty Capital LLC. Earlier this year the firm acquired a portfolio of 10 industrial buildings in the metro Milwaukee area for $61 million.
- Christopher Ressa, senior vice president of leasing for the Northeast and Midwest for Tarrytown, N.Y.-based DLC Management Corp. Last year the firm purchased the Midtown Center shopping center in Milwaukee for $47 million.
- Scott Stahr, co-founder and principal of Chicago-based Fulcrum Asset Advisors. As part of a joint venture, the firm acquired the 20-story 250 Plaza office building in downtown Milwaukee this year, and plans to make significant upgrades. In 2011, the firm acquired four office buildings in Brookfield, with a total of 338,424 square feet of space, for about $41 million.
For Ressa, it’s the combination of yield and Milwaukee’s business friendly environment that makes him want to do business here.
“In some markets where the real estate fundamentals are so off, the yields are irrelevant,” Ressa said.
Garrison believes Milwaukee is a great city on the verge of telling a story of revitalization.
“We’ve had a front row seat in Chicago and watched it happen,” he said. “Milwaukee has done an even better job with the Riverwalk than Chicago has.”
With the exception of Aaronson, who said he is probably five years out from making a future investment, the other four developers said they are looking for another opportunity in Milwaukee.
“We have an intention of expanding our portfolio in Milwaukee,” Stahr said, adding that he is looking for a opportunity that is $15 million to $30 million.
Word has definitely gotten out that Milwaukee is a good place to do business, which isn’t always a good thing for developers, who say competition is one of the biggest obstacles they’ve had to deal with when trying to crack the Milwaukee market.
Garrison has tried unsuccessfully for years to purchase an office building in the Third Ward. He said he will continue to try to build his real estate portfolio in the city.
“I think we were a few years too late,” Garrison said. “There has been a shift to non-traditional office space. It’s a very popular asset class and it’s going to become a recognized asset class. We’re going to keep trying.”