It's easy to be wowed by the high-profile construction projects Downtown, like those at Northwestern Mutual and 833 E. Michigan St., as well as the new Kimpton Hotel in the Third Ward.
But my morning commute reminded me that construction crews appear to be busier than ever in Milwaukee, especially on the northeast end of Downtown and the East Side.
So busy, in fact, that earlier this week at a meeting about an upcoming construction project, one of the planners pointed out that the cost has shot up way beyond initial projections.
That's due, in part, to concrete shortages – think Zoo Interchange and related projects, as well as those big Downtown developments, and other regional demand – but also to the fact that it's getting harder and harder, he said, to get contractors to even bid on a project because they're in such demand. And we know what demand does to prices.
Anyway, this morning, between one of my daily stops and another of them, this is just a snapshot of what I saw. (Note: I also passed the nearly complete and quite impressive looking Sojourner Family Peace Center on 6th and Walnut but couldn't stop for a photo.)
Had I taken a slightly different route, there would be even more images like this. Damn, Milwaukee is busy.
1. The North End
The latest phase of this project, which includes a Fresh Thyme supermarket and more than 160 apartments, is changing the face of this stretch of Water Street.
2. The Rhythm
Right across the street, New Land is putting up nearly 150 apartments on the site of a former tavern and some vacant lots.
3. River House
A pair of four-story buildings on the site the old Gallun Tannery, right along the left bank of the Milwaukee River, will add another nearly 250 units.
4. The Belay
Forty-six apartments and a climbing gym overlooking the Milwaukee River in Riverwest; it's been going up quite quickly the past couple weeks.
5. Greenwich Park Apartments
A Chicago developer is building 53 apartments on Thomas, between Farwell and Murray, and has plans to add another one in the space between it and the U.S. Bank to the south.
Other projects, like one on the old Habhegger site are coming soon, too.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.