Dave Reid

Growth is Good. Let’s Keep it Going

By - Jul 5th, 2009 11:46 pm

Good news.  The City of Milwaukee has been growing over the past decade, albeit slowly, but this recent trend is better than the decades long slide from a high point of 741,324 in 1960 to a recent low of 596,974 in 2000.  Since 2000 Milwaukee has seen a small, but significant increase to 604,477 residents.  Yes, a growth rate of just 1.3%, but it is a start.  This recent growth is surely connected to significant property tax reductions, historically low crime levels, and an outstanding record of excellence for the Milwaukee Public School District.  Right?  Apparently, not.  Of course, a strong job market, and a more balanced taxing scheme could help improve these numbers, but what’s interesting is that Milwaukee has seen a population increase in the face of these so-called limiters.  So the question has to be, how did this happen?

The most obvious areas of increased population are likely in the Third Ward, along the Beerline, the East Side, and the Fifth Ward, because each area has seen significant development in recent years and make up part of the 3,000 new condos that have gone up in the greater downtown area in recent years.  In some cases a TIF District was created, to fund Riverwalk development, streetscaping, environmental cleanup, and infrastructure improvements.  Generally, the TIF funds were used not to directly build residential units, but with the goal of making the area desirable for private development.  At the same time that these quality of life improvements were going on, a back to the city movement led by Baby Boomers, and Generation Y was picking up steam.  Clearly, the current recession has surely slowed development, but as the economy begins to rebound its amazing just how much space Milwaukee has to grow so we shouldn’t stand in its way.

The Park East, despite its issues, still has a great potential to fill in with high-density residential projects.  The Third Ward has more room to grow, and has the potential for significant growth if the Hoan Bridge is rebuilt to allow the freeway ramps to be removed.  Just a few of the many other opportunities for growth include the possibilities along S. 2nd Street, the Reed Street Yards (incidentally take a look at this thesis project by Austen Conrad and Ryan Sands), Eco Bay, and the Hide House all of which could bring additional residents to Milwaukee.  Unfortunately, it seems that more often than not, we as residents work to stop Milwaukee’s growth.  I do hope when big ideas such as lowering the Hoan Bridge, or small projects like Eco Bay, come along they are giving a fair shake prior to saying, “what about the cars” or “not in my backyard”.

Categories: Real Estate

7 thoughts on “Growth is Good. Let’s Keep it Going”

  1. Tim c says:

    This is great to hear. It’s amazing to see the growth considering all of the reasons we give potential new residents to NOT come here and the resistance towards growth overall. Luckily, there is a LOT of places to expand and grow in Milwaukee and we haven’t even really tapped vertical growth yet. I think if the city want to head back towards those 1960 numbers, Milwaukee as a whole has to be willing to embrace the concept of growth and recognize how important this is for the future of jobs and the local market in general as more business owners also move here. Hopefully as the economy improves, a lot of these projects gain stream again.

  2. Nicholas Crawford says:

    I just want to thank you all for your hard work on this website.

    The growth is good news. Your point about resistance to growth and change is well taken, but I believe it’s a systemic problem from the loss of jobs from major employers since the 1960s. Holding onto today’s big employers like Manpower and Rockwell is important, but they’re dwarfed by the manufacturers of the old days. If we can dream big, we can create the jobs we need to truly grow.

  3. Joel says:

    Milwaukee becoming a freshwater capital of the world would definitely help population increase.

  4. Tess says:

    Fun fact: “all be it” = “albeit.”

  5. Dave Reid says:

    @Tess Thanks! I guess I still can’t quit my day job:)

  6. pointAtopointB says:

    You know, all the city dwellers — though not hip, ultra-urban ThirdWard ones — that live in BayView and the like might be somewhat upset when they’re stuck in a roundabout or at a traffic light just because some people and a certain alderman don’t like freeway ramps on I-794. People need to get places.

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @pointAtopointB I believe a Alderman Bauman wants to see economic development, and growth in Milwaukee. The land under those ramps in the Third Ward/Downtown area is prime land for redevelopment. Further the change in travel times to and from downtown is pretty likely to be minimal.

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