Real Estate: Momentum builds on Milwaukee’s upper east side

Although the U.S. economy spirals toward a recession and the real estate market is in a major slump, one of Milwaukee’s most densely populated areas is about to get a population surge that could provide a boost retailers in the area.

Several developments have been proposed or are under construction in the area near North Prospect Avenue and East North Avenue that will bring even more residents and workers to the already vibrant neighborhood.

One of the biggest projects in the neighborhood will be completed during the first half of 2009. The Park Lafayette development, twin 20-story towers with a total of 280 residential condominiums, is nearing completion east of Prospect Avenue and Lafayette Place, just four blocks north of Prospect and North. Residents will begin moving into the lower 10 floors of the towers in January and residents will be moving into the higher floors of the towers through June, said Lynn Buckley, director of sales and marketing for Park Lafayette.

So far, only about 85 of the units, just more than 30 percent, have been sold, Buckley said. The real estate market downtown and the overall economic slump have hurt sales.

"Obviously, we are two months from delivering the building, we would like to have (the number of sales) a little higher," Buckley said.

Sales should improve when potential buyers will be able to go into the actual building and see the condos themselves, and the impressive views of the lake and city, Buckley said.

"I have several interested people who refuse to get in a construction elevator," she said.

The other massive project in the neighborhood, the expansion of Columbia St. Mary’s Lake Drive hospital, will be complete in 2010. The project essentially combines and consolidates the Columbia and St. Mary’s hospitals. Although Columbia Hospital (located near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus) will

close, the consolidation project will result in a larger hospital near North and Prospect with more employees and more patients. The exact number of employees who will work there has not been determined yet, said Columbia St. Mary’s spokeswoman Kathleen Schmitz.

When completed, the expanded Columbia St. Mary’s Lake Drive campus will include an 835,000-square-foot hospital, a 40,000-square-foot cancer center, two medical office buildings and new parking structures.

The project includes the 80,000-square-foot Prospect Medical Commons medical office building, which was completed in 2006 and included a Whole Foods grocery store at the northwest corner of Prospect and North.

Although the grocery store has "underperformed," according to grocery industry consultant David Livingston, it has become a major amenity for the neighborhood, said Tim Gokhman, director of sales and marketing for Milwaukee-based New Land Enterprises LLP.

New Land is planning to build an apartment building in the neighborhood that will offer a place to live for many of the employees at the hospital.

"Because of what Columbia St. Mary’s is doing, there is a huge demand for workforce housing," Gokhman said.

New Land plans to build a five-story building with 90 apartments and 7,500 square feet of retail space at the west corner of North Farwell Avenue and East Kenilworth Place, just two blocks from North and Prospect. The apartments will have 580 to 850 square feet of space, and rents will be between $925 and $1,300.

More college students are also coming to the neighborhood. In January, the 475-student RiverView Residence hall opened along North Avenue on the west side of the Milwaukee River. On the other side of the river, Mandel Group Inc. plans to build a 700-student dormitory with retail space along North Avenue. The dorm sites are about six blocks west of North and Prospect.

The economic downturn has caused major problems for many retailers, and several national chains have closed stores. But the North and Prospect area has attracted some new retailers this year and the addition of more residents should help those stores, and may attract more.

"(New Land’s apartment project will) bring about 100 new people to the neighborhood," Gokhman said. "Absolutely it helps (retail)."

In 2006, Weas Development completed a project to redevelop the 500,000-square-foot Kenilworth Building, located at Prospect and Kenilworth-two blocks south of Prospect and North, into two buildings with 174 apartments for UWM students, space for UWM’s Peck School of Arts and 26,500 square feet of retail space. Since then, much of the retail space has been filled with Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, Esselle Style Studio and Anytime Fitness. A Toppers Pizza delivery and carryout store will open soon in the building.

Other smaller developments are occurring in the neighborhood.

Milwaukee-based Boulder Venture LLC built a 5,000-square-foot multi-tenant retail building at 2043 E. North Ave., previously the site of a gas station. Bruegger’s Bagels leased 1,750 square feet of space in the building, but the rest remains vacant.

Racine-based Educators Credit Union is building a three-story, 11,000-square-foot branch and office building at 2034 Ivanhoe Place.

A Suburpia sandwich shop opened in late 2007 at 2264 N. Prospect Ave.

The retailers in the area make the neighborhood an attractive place for residents, developers say.

"What’s not to like about that neighborhood?" Gohkman said. "It is literally within walking distance of Whole Foods, Beans & Barley, Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, parks and the lakefront. Everything is within walking distance, especially the grocery store, that’s huge. It is a true pedestrian neighborhood. There aren’t a lot of places you can say that about in the city of Milwaukee."

Oak Creek

Oak Brook, Ill.-based CenterPoint Properties plans to build three multi-tenant industrial buildings, one 52,000 square feet and two 98,000 square feet each, on a vacant 17-acre site at 9801-41 S. 13th St. and 9809-75 S. Stern St. at the south end of the Creekside Corporate Park.

Mahn Court Properties LLC plans to build a 61,232-square-foot multi-tenant industrial building on a vacant 9.5-acre site at 340 E. Mahn Ct.

New Berlin

Wauwatosa-based Irgens Development Partners LLC plans to build a two-story, 50,000-square-foot office building on the site of two homes at 15200 and 15230 W. Small Road. The homes will be demolished and the lots combined to create an 8.5-acre site for the office building.


Telsmith Inc., a manufacturer of stone processing equipment, plans to build a 20,000-square-foot addition of its 200,000-square-foot facility at 10910 Industrial Drive. The company is owned by Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Astec Industries Inc., which manufactures equipment to build and restore infrastructure.


Brookfield-based Carity Land Corp. plans to develop a 35-acre business park east of the site of a proposed Wal-Mart store, which will be built southeast of College Avenue and Moorland Road. According to Carity’s preliminary plans, the business park would have three multi-tenant light industrial or office buildings with a total of 230,000 square feet of space.

Menomonee Falls

St. Louis-based E.J. Welch Company Inc. plans to build a 15,000-square-foot warehouse building, with some office space and a showroom, on a vacant two-acre site on Westbrook Crossing in the Westbrook Corporate Center. E.J. Welch is a wholesale distributor of flooring and flooring installation products. 

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin

No posts to display