For much of the 2010s, the industrial real estate market in southeastern Wisconsin has seen the trend of businesses relocating their operations to the region, and that trend is showing no signs of slowing down.
In fact, this last year has arguably been the high water mark, with major projects from Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group, Germany-based Haribo and Seattle-based Amazon amounting to billions of dollars in new development planned for the region.
And the momentum is building far beyond these mega-projects.
“There’s activity all over the place,” said Jim Barry III, president of Milwaukee-based commercial real estate brokerage The Barry Co.
Developers are building and businesses are relocating in this region, said Barry, because of the “political and fiscal situation in Illinois” along with a lack of developable land in the Chicago area and a more business-friendly tax environment in Wisconsin.
Just north of the Illinois border is Prairie Highlands Corporate Park in the Village of Pleasant Prairie. Gummy bear maker Haribo’s $242 million production facility and Advocate Aurora Health’s new $130 million surgery center make up the first phase, and another 130 to 160 acres soon to become available for development will make up the second phase, said Jeff Hoffman, principal at Milwaukee-based commercial real estate brokerage The Boerke Co.
Hoffman said another pocket of the area is also set for major expansion, with three speculative industrial developments – two from Chicago-based Logistics Property Co. totaling 1 million square feet and one 500,000-square-foot building from Milwaukee-based Zilber Property Group – that will be available for lease as soon as summer 2019.
“There will be a lot of opportunity for businesses that can come up to the corridor and immediately get established and not have to go through the whole planning and site selection process,” Hoffman said. “They’re ready to go, right on the freeway.”
Also along the I-94 corridor in Kenosha and Racine counties are the 130-acre Mount Pleasant Business Park West from Milwaukee-based MLG Commercial and a 440,000-square-foot spec building in Racine County from Michigan-based Ashley Capital. Hoffman said there’s opportunity for another 2 million square feet of speculative development in those two counties.
In Milwaukee County, Oak Creek remains on a “real run” for new and infill development, said Barry, who is also working on a 100,000-square-foot speculative building at West Oakwood Road and South 27th Street in Franklin.
The 30th Street Industrial Corridor in the City of Milwaukee also saw some long-awaited movement in 2018, with Milwaukee-based Good City Brewing announcing a deal to move its operations and warehouse to the 53,000-square-foot Century City One industrial building in 2018.
Elsewhere in southeastern Wisconsin, Barry points to a major, 700,000-square-foot distribution facility being built by Zilber that will “kick off an industrial park between 2 and 2.5 million square feet of industrial development” at Highway 167 and Highway 41 in Germantown.
“Wisconsin has become appealing for companies all over the place, not just nationally but internationally,” Barry said.
Milwaukee vs Chicago industrial real Estate
Available square footage (total)
Price (avg direct)**
(varies per region-
(varies per region-
Milwaukee north central
Milwaukee north shore
Milwaukee south central
** N IL counties = “average asking lease rate”