Area’s Residential Construction Rate Stays Red Hot

March dwelling permits for metro Milwaukee show a 67% increase

By Michele Derus

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 4, 1998

Metro Milwaukee’s residential construction market continued its applaudable 1998 performance in March with 747 new dwelling permits, up 67% from a year earlier.

“We are really on the receiving end of a terrific economic boom,” marveled Mike Fabishak, executive director of the Metropolitan Builders Association of Greater Milwaukee Inc.

With the area’s decade-long housing prosperity, “every year has a nuance, and this one is quiet. You don’t hear much from builders because they are very busy,” Fabishak said.

Multiunit housing, which typically has more peaks and valleys, is clearly at a rise, according to data from Allied Construction Employers’ Association Inc. in Brookfield.

ACEA’s March report on Milwaukee, Washington, Waukesha and Ozaukee counties’ dwelling permits, released Friday, shows that:

Multiunit housing accounted for more than half the March construction trade — 395 new units, more than a tripling from the 118 in March 1997.

For the year, the multifamily market is up 25%, with 605 new units vs. 483 in the first quarter of 1997.

There were 318 new single-family homes, a healthy boost from the 280 in March 1997.

For the year, the single-family market is up nearly 26%, with 760 new homes vs. 604 in the first quarter of 1998.

Right now, the apartment construction spotlight is in the city of Milwaukee, where a 180-unit upscale development called Arbor Ridge is under way on 14-plus acres east of N. 107th St. and south of W. Bradley Road.

Tom Capp, real estate development director for Gorman & Co., a Madison developer, said Friday that the first of 14 buildings will be ready for occupancy next week. Gorman also built the nearby Menomonee Parkway apartments.

“This is Phase 1; our plan is one building a month” through next year, he said.

Monthly rents on the amenity-rich apartments are to be $754 for a one-bedroom and $929 for a two-bedroom.

“We’ve come to believe there’s a very strong demand for rental property in Milwaukee for renters by choice — people who could afford a home, but prefer to rent,” Capp said.

“There’s a segment that either needs to live in the city of Milwaukee or wants to be close to (northwest side) transportation corridors. We happen to be building on the last open land there.”

The city of Greenfield accounted for the other major chunk of the March multifamily housing market — a 120-unit apartment building for older people. The $6 million Lexington Village development is being developed by MSP Real Estate Inc. of Minneapolis on 4.5 acres at the northeast corner of Highway 100 and W. Edgerton Ave.

Lexington Village will have 50 two-bedroom apartments and 70 one-bedroom apartments that are expected to be available by September. The one-bedroom units will have monthly rents of $560; most of the two-bedroom units will rent for $670.