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Questions Hang Over Milwaukee's Building Boom In Light Of Coronavirus Pandemic

With the COVID-19 pandemic and a looming recession, there are lots of questions hanging over the many construction projects happening in Milwaukee.

There are a lot of buildings currently under construction in the heart of Milwaukee. New hotels, apartments and office buildings — the city is experiencing a huge transformation. But with the COVID-19 pandemic and a looming recession, there are lots of questions hanging over these projects. 

>>The Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Right now, most construction seems to be continuing and Gov. Tony Evers' stay-at-home order includes some construction workers as "essential workers." Tom Daykin from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, says that some construction sites have been making changes to prevent the spread of disease. 

"What they are doing ... is taking steps to engage in social distancing, like we've been told constantly, continually to do. So you don't see workers huddling together," says Daykin. 

He adds, "[There are] a lot of hand washing stations, a lot of hand sanitizer stations, a lot of signs reminding people to wash their hands and to remain 6 feet apart from one another."

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As the shutdown and the pandemic continue, unemployment has spiked to unprecedented levels and the prospect of an economic recession seems all but certain. Daykin says only time will tell how it will impact each of these projects. 

"Obviously, the longer it goes on, the less business activity you have in general, the more that hurts demand for the types of buildings — apartments, hotels, retail centers — that are being built," he explains. 

During this pandemic, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.


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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.
Tom Daykin has been covering commercial development at the Journal Sentinel since 1995.