Condo developer says partnerships crucial for development


Condo developer says partnerships crucial for development

By Steve Jagler, of SBT

The condo king of downtown Milwaukee is on the verge of expanding his empire.
Barry Mandel, president of Mandel Group Inc., has plans to develop more than 1,000 new upscale condominiums or apartments downtown with a total value of more than $300 over the next five to seven years.
"It’s a big pipeline," Mandel said. "The market is softening, and it’s going to take developments that are the very best at the very best locations that will be successful. We will phase them in as appropriate."
Mandel’s "pipeline" of new condominium and apartment projects includes:
— 560 apartments and condominiums, with a total value of $125 million, at the former Pfister & Vogel tannery in the 1500 block of North Water Street;
— 50 luxury condominiums, with a total value $65 million, at the University Club Tower along North Prospect Avenue in the parking lot of the University Club. The condo units in the 25-story lakefront tower are being sold for $700,000 to $2.5 million each — the priciest condos in Wisconsin. Mandel says he has commitments for about 25 of the units. His partners in the project include Blaine Rieke, Chris Smocke and Peter Mahler;
— 108 condominiums and 40,000 square feet of office space, with a total value of $30 million, at the Marine Terminal building, formerly the Stearns Co. building, 120 N. Broadway in the Historic Third Ward. The condos will be of various sizes and range in price from $250,000 to $450,000, Mandel said.
— 50 condominiums and 138 apartments, with a total value of $36 million, at the Gas Light Lofts project, 136 N. Milwaukee St., in the Third Ward.
— 120 condominiums, apartments or retirement housing units, with a total value of $30 million, at the corner of Prospect and Ogden avenues on Milwaukee’s east side.
— 60 condominiums, with a total value of $20 million, in the RiverCrest development at 2800 N. Commerce St. just north of downtown.
In addition, Mandel is looking west, with the following developments in Brookfield: the Norhardt Crossing Condominiums, with 48 new units and a total value of $20 million at 1861 Norhardt Dr.; the Georgetown Square Apartments, with 145 luxury apartments and a total value of $18 million at 16400 W. Wisconsin Ave.; and the Georgetown Loft Condominiums, with 70 luxury loft units and a total value of $17.5 million at 16300 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Mandel acknowledged that some people question whether there is enough affluent demand to support his upscale condominium developments in downtown Milwaukee. The market will prove to be the determining factor, he said.
The tenants in his condos are a mix of empty-nesters, aging baby boomers, "Gen-Xers" who value diversity and young people from "Gen-Y" who are the well-heeled children of baby boomers, Mandel said.
As the condos are built and occupied, downtown Milwaukee will see a surge of retail development over time to accommodate the expanding affluent population, Mandel said.
"I think there will undoubtedly be more retail. The market will dictate that there will be more retail," he said.
Pointing to his previous successes with the Library Hill and East Pointe developments in downtown Milwaukee, which were made possible by partnerships between the public and private sectors, Mandel said joint ventures such as tax incremental financing (TIF) districts work for the common good of the community.
"I think the TIF is one of the most important tools for redevelopment," Mandel said. "As the public sector becomes more confident in the TIF as a redevelopment tool, there is a greater willingness to move forward with TIFs, and communities are benefiting.
"The job of the city is to provide for the infrastructure. The public sector gets paid back in real estate taxes over time," Mandel said.
New public-private partnerships will be needed downtown to help create affordable housing developments that are in high demand, but are not very profitable for developers, Mandel said.

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May 16, 2003 Small Business Times, Milwaukee

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