By Jeff Sherman Staff Writer Published Aug 06, 2009 at 10:01 AM

In my more than 15 years of Downtown living I've toured many homes, countless developments and lived in three different buildings. This doesn't make me a housing expert, but I do think I have a decent eye for what's good, design-friendly and marketable. So, here's my second in a continuing series of greater Downtown housing observations. This time, I'm just outside Downtown on Milwaukee's East Side at the brand new Park Lafayette, 1918 E. Lafayette Pl.

Situated on a bluff and on a parcel of land that many thought could never hold such a towering development, Park Lafayette is the first Milwaukee project for developer Warren Barr. Barr's Oak Brook-based Renaissant Development Group LLC is putting the finishing touches on a $100 million-plus project that's a bit of a gateway to the constantly growing East Side.

It's a striking double tower housing project that offers a range of prices and easy access to the lakefront and everything that the East Side has to offer. The price range at Park Lafayette goes from about $245,000 to $895,000 per unit. The structure also includes a 448-space multi-level parking garage and 10 street-level, walk-in townhomes.

The setting is very nice; it has a cool blend of a neighborhood and city feel while not being too falsely upscale for its own good. This is a very nice development that has already sparked more interest in higher-end housing in the area.

Even though it's not completely finished (hallway and common space art and design are coming soon), I got a tour last week. Here are six observations:

  • The condo fees are very reasonable for what they include. That is cable, heat and cooling, and common space amenities. They vary based on the size of your home, but on average the fees run in the mid-$200 range and include cable -- wow, that's very nice. Also, the entire development features "virtually unlimited capacity" with a fiber optic network that's hard wired.
  • As I mentioned above, the neighborhood, trees and city mix well. Several of the units hug the tree line while also sporting amazing city views. You feel nestled into this tree-lined area on one side of your space while gazing over the city on the other.
  • This isn't the development's fault, but I think that Prospect Avenue should be flipped to two-way traffic. It would enhance the value of all the properties along it and make Park Lafayette a gateway into the East Side. Ald. Kovac, are you reading?
  • The financing options are very appealing. Lease-to-own, an installment sales program and a buyer's equity fund all offer creative ways to move in while managing your cash. The lease-to-own deal lets you put a portion of your rent towards a downpayment.
  • Both towers have a full-time door man / concierge. This is a big selling point from not only a security standpoint but also offering peace of mind knowing that's there's always someone on premise to answer questions and offer advice, if needed.
  • Kudos on the garage and greenery. The underground parking is ample, easy to navigate and spacious. They did a really good job here.The same is true for the green space between the buildings. The rooftop deck offers small garden parcels and areas to hang out in. 
Jeff Sherman Staff Writer

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.