After trending higher in the first part of the decade, the city of West Allis saw population declines for five years in a row. Through 2018, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated
the city’s population was down by 1,001.
The downward trend, however, reversed in 2019. With an increase of 480 residents, West Allis saw the sixth largest population increase of any municipality in the state last year and the largest in southeastern Wisconsin.
In percentage terms, West Allis grew its population by 0.8%, ranking 94th
in the state.
The village of Menomonee Falls and city of Brookfield were just behind West Allis in total growth, but grew faster in percentage terms.
St. Francis was also in the top 20 municipalities for growth in the state, adding 200 residents. At 2.1%, St. Francis’ growth was the fastest in southeastern Wisconsin for communities among the 100 largest in the state.
While St. Francis has seen up and down years and Brookfield and Menomonee Falls have seen growth over the course of the decade, West Allis’ growth is notable for reversing the trend from recent years. It may be only one data point, but Mayor Dan Devine said he expected the city would return to growth.
“We’ve had a lot of unique, independent restaurants popping up and they’re one-of-a-kind, somewhat destination restaurants and I think that led then to some of the new housing development projects,” Devine said.
West Allis has seen a number of development projects bring additional housing and amenities in recent years, including the Mandel Group’s Six Points project. More recently, Cobalt Partners has started work on a mixed-use development of a former Allis Chalmers site along South 70th
Devine said the city’s growing amenities make it attractive to employers, who want their employees to have access to restaurants and shops.
“I think it also means a lot to get on people’s radars when they are looking for a place to live,” he said.
Devine noted his conversations with realtors and owners of multi-family housing suggest that in the past, people may end up living in West Allis, but didn’t seek it out.
“Now it seems like some people are specifically looking for a place to live in the city of West Allis,” he added.
Beyond amenities, Devine said the city benefits from diverse affordable housing stock and relative proximity to other attractions in the greater Milwaukee area.
He also noted West Allis has seen a decrease in crime in recent years. After a recent peak of 238 reported violent crimes in 2015, the city averaged 217 such crimes the next three years, according to FBI data. Property crime, meanwhile, peaked at 3,174 in 2011 and has decreased every year since. By 2018, that number was nearly cut in half at 1,685.
For the decade, West Allis has still lost an estimated 521 residents. While continuing last year’s momentum would have been easier prior to the coronavirus pandemic, Devine said the goal will be to continue the efforts that have made the city more attractive. He added that he is encouraged many developments and projects started or proposed before the pandemic appear to still be moving forward.
The latest Census population estimates for 2019 continued a number of trends from recent years. Madison saw the largest increase in new residents of any municipality in the state, adding 1,826 people. Since the 2010 Census, the city’s population has increased by 26,471, an 11.4% increase to 259,680.
Milwaukee, on the other hand, continued to lose residents last year. The city’s population dropped 1,218, according to the Census Bureau. Like West Allis, Milwaukee saw population gains in the early part of the decade but has seen drops every year since 2015. Last year’s decline was smaller than the previous three years, but the city’s population is down 4,676 since 2010.
In addition to St. Francis, the village of Sussex was among the faster growing municipalities in the region with a 1.4% increase last year, the ninth fastest among the 100 largest municipalities in the state.
Menomonee Falls and Brookfield came in at 14th
respectively with rates of 1.1% and 1%. Hartford was 20th
, followed by Oconomowoc, Pleasant Prairie and West Allis, all up just under 1%.
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