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Top 5 Milwaukee real estate developments of 2021

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA downtown city skyline on Lake Michigan at twilight.
Sean Pavone
Stock Adobe
Downtown city skyline of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

There were a lot of new developments in Milwaukee in 2021, especially among cultural institutions and the central city. Older proposed developments began construction, new projects became a reality, and some historic buildings got a rehab.

Every month Tom Daykin from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel talks about commercial real estate projects happening around town. This month, he points out some of Milwaukee's biggest projects of last year.

Here are the top five development projects from 2021:

  1. The Couture
    After years of delays, The Couture finally began construction. The apartment building near the lakefront began construction in May of 2021, but there hasn't been a lot of visible progress yet.

    "What this involves so far is site prep work. So a lot of excavation work, a lot of piles being driven deep into the ground. But we should see an actual building rising out of that hole in the ground, I would say by the spring," says Daykin.

    Completion is expected to happen fall of 2023.

  2. Ascent
    Another apartment building, named Ascent, is being constructed using a unique process called mass timber. The process uses layers of wood that are pressed together, which create the frame of the building. Daykin says it's a process that's been used in Europe for several years and it's finally gaining ground in the United States.

    "The Ascent is noteworthy because it's 25 stories, it's very visible. It's right in the heart of the side of downtown. When it's completed, it will be the tallest [timber] structure in the world, according to its developer new land enterprises," says Daykin.

    Ascent is scheduled to open in summer 2022.

  3. Third Street Market Hall
    The Third Street Market Hall will serve as a food hall containing several local food and beverages vendors. The hall opened on Jan. 14, and anyone can visit. It is in the former Grand Avenue mall, now known as the Avenue.

    "Developers have converted most of the rest of the Grand Avenue into new uses. You've got some apartments there, some offices, and now we finally have Third Street Market Hall, which is really the most public [and] most visible portion of the Avenue," says Daykin.

  4. Bradley Symphony Center
    The Bradley symphony center is the new home to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The orchestra wanted their own venue to manage their events and generate their own revenue, Daykin notes.

    The Bradley Symphony Center is located near the Avenue and Third Street Market Hall, which Daykin says is turning around the West Milwaukee area.

    "When you walk into the actual performance hall, it's like a French Renaissance. Then they also built a new addition, this really gorgeous, classy addition that has areas where people can sit and enjoy a drink or a snack before or after the symphony," he explains.

  5. Community Within The Corridor
    According to Daykin, Community Within The Corridor got its name because it's within the North 30th Street industrial corridor. Local, Black developers lead this project in partnership with Roars Company —one of the largest suburban developers in the Twin Cities.

    Construction began last year and the apartment will begin opening this June.

    "Those buildings are being converted into nearly 200 apartments. A large recreation and community center for both the people living there and people living in the neighborhood, and then some commercial space. That will include a childcare center, a grocery, a laundromat and a job training center," says Daykin.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
Tom Daykin has been covering commercial development at the Journal Sentinel since 1995.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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