Downtown condo study reveals the obvious

    A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee released Wednesday claims to dispel some popular myths about the recent condo boom in downtown Milwaukee.

    UWM’s Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) conducted the study, "Milwaukee’s ‘Condo Boom’: 2008 Survey of Perceptions and Perspectives of Condominium Owners," between October and December, collecting responses from 804 city condo owners in downtown, a portion of the east side, and the Third and Fifth wards.

    Here some parts of the study and some commentary from someone (me) who works in the Historic Third Ward:

    • "Surprisingly, the results indicated that condo owners in these parts of the city are not mostly retirees and young singles. We found that while the popular assumption about who is behind condo growth had some merit, condo owners in this area were on average middle-aged professionals, many of whom have children."
      Comment: How many have children? How many is "many?" I can’t remember the last time I saw a child in the Third Ward. Or a playground. Or a baseball field. Or a soccer field. Or even a daycare center. Where are these children?
    • "Also, the notion that visiting Chicagoans or others from out of state are fueling the Milwaukee condo boom is not well-supported. Only a small fraction of owners primarily reside outside the Milwaukee area. Most owners use their condo as their primary residence, and the vast majority of resident owners previously resided in Milwaukee or its suburbs."
      Comment: In this time of economic duress, maybe the city should consider imposing a new Flatlander fee.
    • "The average respondent has owned his or her condo for 3.3 years, and 44 percent of respondents are first-time homeowners."
      Comment: In today’s credit crunch, the first-time homeowners are becoming harder to qualify for mortgages.
    • "The average (median) age of respondents is 44 years old, although there are two somewhat distinct clusters grouped around the age ranges of 27-30 and 53-58 … Twelve percent of all households surveyed were retired households, in which at least one person was retired, at the time of their condo purchase."
      Comment: Actually, that is about what I would have guessed. No myths busted here.
    • "More than 90 percent of respondents identified themselves as white or Caucasian, and fewer than 10 percent identified themselves as people of color."
      Comment: How shocking. White people live in expensive downtown condos.
    • "Household Income. One-quarter of respondents fell into the $100,000-$150,000 income category, the category with the largest number of respondents."
      Comment: Again, what myths are we dispelling here?
    • "Despite the desirability of the urban setting and lifestyle Milwaukee offers, some respondents expressed concern over issues endemic to city life such as noise (24 percent) and parking (15 percent)."
      Comment: Let’s see. You move to the city and then you complain about noise and parking. No violin music for you, pal.
    • "When asked to reflect on their original purchase decision, 80 percent of respondents said they would buy their condo again. A majority (57 percent) said they expected to still be living in their condo five years from now."
      Comment: Hope they like their condos, because they won’t be able to sell them any time soon.


    I wish the survey would have asked a couple more questions … Something along the lines of: "Do you have a very large dog that is cooped up all day in your condo? And when you take that dog running or walking early in the morning or later in the evening, do you fail to clean up after your pet does his duties on the sidewalk?"

    Steve Jagler is executive editor of BizTimes Milwaukee.

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