I'm sick and tired of people saying things like "who are the people buying all these Downtown condos?, "why are they building so many?" and, even worse, "who can afford to live Downtown?' Please, people, put a sock in it and study the data and take a look around.
Downtown has been my home for more than 20 years, essentially all of my adult life. It's affordable, vibrant, easy and, like many suburban areas, seemingly ever-growing. Yet, too many people, because Downtown homes are still a rather new notion in Milwaukee, think there's some type of irrational exuberance and crazy, ill-advised building boon happening. Not true. Simply, not true.
In fact, just last month on these pages an expert talked upbeat about Milwaukee and the Chicago Tribune also proclaimed in a headline that "Milwaukee's (the) only ray of data light." I'll explain. Actually, I'll let Mary Umberger's Tribune column explain, "... the Milwaukee market appears to be holding its ground, in terms of prices. Sales were down about 11 percent last year, but prices didn't sink into negative territory, according to one new report. The RPX monthly housing report said Milwaukee was one of just four areas in a survey of 25 where prices -- at least on a per-square-foot basis -- had increased in the last year."
She continues, "the report said (Milwaukee's) residential property prices were up about 5 percent, topping the Wisconsin Association of Realtors' findings that showed Milwaukee County prices up 1.8 percent last year. Chicago's metro prices, on the other hand, declined 4.3 percent in the period, the report said."
So, there you have it. The media and public reaction to housing fluctuations are never quite as bad or as good as they seem. Life, though, as a homeowner in Downtown Milwaukee is, for now, very good.
Are there projects that are struggling? Sure. There are suburban subdivisions and neighborhoods in other areas that are struggling, too.
Are there open condo units one the market? Sure. But, there also are homes all over Milwaukee County sitting unsold. Reality is that you can buy a nice home in Downtown for $100,000 or $2 million. Search MLS, there's variety aplenty.
Overall, Downtown is growing and more than 2,000 units are currently in the construction stage. Success begets success.
Because Downtown is so important to the city and state's vitality, it will and must continue to balance competing interests for housing, business, retail and entertainment uses, and resolve issues of transportation and tourism. It's happening, and I'm thrilled to be a part of it.
But, I ask that you stop using terms like "saturation," "over developed" and "too expensive" when talking about our Downtown. Percpetion can hurt reality. This request goes out to radio talk show hosts, too. Many love to rip Downtown. Not sure why, but that's another topic. I ask, rather, that you tour or buy a home Downtown or just go Downtown on a weekly basis. You'll see there is life, energy, opportunity and a ton of room for growth.
Don't' believe me? Just study the data.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.