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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, April 17, 2014

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Developers push for Park East priority

Milwaukee's commercial real estate developers are becoming increasingly frustrated by the lack of progress in the redevelopment of the Park East Corridor, which stands largely vacant on the north end of the city's downtown.

That frustration is evident in the responses of a new BizTimes survey of members of the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin (CARW).

We asked the CARW members the following question: "What should be the region's priorities for economic development in 2013?"

"Brand and market and rename the Park East. There is no park and it is not east (of the river), so the name doesn't even make sense," said one respondent, who did not leave his name.

"Making smart decisions on the Park East Corridor vacant land development. The governmental bodies being willing to approve creative projects. The Menomonee Valley transformation is astounding, thanks to the efforts of the City, the Development Authority, the businesses that took a leap of faith," responded Patrick Zabrowski of Foley & Lardner.

"The Park East corridor. Continued support for industrial and multi-family development. Increased support for small and medium-sized manufacturers," said Ed Treis of HIS Properties.

Other respondents chose to focus on more big-picture priorities.

"1. Lower taxes. 2. A revitalized and active WEDC (Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.) 3. Attracting firms from Illinois," said Jim Barry III of Cassidy Turley Barry.

"Creating enthusiasm within the market by honoring the individuals and companies that have made the bullish decisions to expand their businesses and build new facilities in the face of the recession. These companies obviously believe in what they are doing and should be recognized for their positive business attitudes. Attitudes are contagious and their's are definitely worth catching. They are not the naysayers, they are the believers and the believers are the ones that make things happen," said David Buckley of Cassidy Turley Barry.

"Encourage new business formation by lowering the tax rates in Wisconsin. Anyone who is considering starting a new business or expanding one would look at the tax rates for the business AND for the employees they would be hiring," said William Griffiths.

"The region should be proactive in reaching out to the nation's larger manufacturers and entice them to bring operations to Wisconsin. We have a strong work force in the state and it is important to bring jobs to them. With increased production and jobs in Wisconsin, we will create a better atmosphere of consumer confidence. This will directly relate to more spending, increased production and expansions," said Adam Matson of NAI MLG Commercial.

"Attracting new jobs that do not compete directly with our current employers. Further, support those companies that are here, so that they can grow and add new jobs," said Sheldon Oppermann of Compass Properties LLC.

"Find financing for spec industrial development, as there are few quality buildings available," said John Henderson of NAI MLG Commercial.

Of course, some members chose to sing from their own hymnals rather than toe the standard line.

"We as a nation and a state need to continue to promote policies that are business friendly. Further, on the retail side, we need to pass a comprehensive, universal internet sales tax which will put internet retailers on equal ground with the bricks and mortar stores," said Cory Sovine of Siegel-Gallagher Inc.

"Transportation. Yes, light rail," said David Price of Milwaukee Realty Inc.

Readers are invited to learn more at the BizTimes Commercial Real Estate & Development Conference Thursday, Nov. 1. Additional information is available at biztimes.com/creconference.

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