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Milwaukee Area Multi-Family: Keeping Up with National Trends

April 10, 2015, In News, Recent Posts, by Eric Harrmann

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Multi-family developments are taking many cities by storm as developers introduce a stock of apartment complexes that address market needs as well as specific demographic influences. Building Design + Construction discussed this apartment boom in its January 2015 issue identifying 5 Intriguing Trends to Track in the Multifamily Game. Due to AG’s recently completed and ongoing project work in this category, we would like to make note of how Milwaukee area projects are matching up with these national trends.

The Building Design + Construction article referenced amenities, urban lifestyle and affordable luxury as three of the top five trends to watch. From AG’s perspective, Milwaukee area projects are following suit as the apartment experience continues to be elevated in urban and suburban projects.

Developers are gearing amenities to the anticipated demographics of their properties, from young professionals to empty nesters, offering community spaces that address a variety of needs from study nooks to aquatic centers. The anticipated renters are looking beyond the square footage of their unit and analyzing the usefulness of the entire building. They want destinations within the building and unique experiences. The distribution of these spaces throughout the plan adds to the vitality of the community within the building or complex. A quiet lounge or study space on the top floor with a view creates a desired destination. A rooftop patio in a northern climate may only be used for a few months, but a rooftop suite with outdoor access increases usefulness. Clustering uses to achieve active zones is a strategy that maximizes the benefits of each community space. Business centers, conference rooms, fitness centers and party suites are some of the amenities being incorporated into Milwaukee area projects.

While an attractive mix of amenities within the building is essential, the project’s location can be one of the greatest amenities that the developer provides. Connecting to a retail corridor can increase interest in the development by creating what is perceived as an attractive amenity. The proximity to these businesses supports a desired lifestyle. Residents feel these neighborhood perks, such as restaurants, bars, coffee shops and other local businesses, are part of their “home.” The strategic orientation of the building within the desired location provides privacy and security for the residents while accentuating the convenience and direct access to all the neighborhood has to offer. This connection to the community energizes the development and the urban appeal of the project.

The amenities and location of the project combined with specific details elevate the rental experience by creating a sense of luxury and establishing a lifestyle affordable to a diverse customer base. While the amenity offering establishes a level of luxury, there needs to be a balance of both private and public spaces.

  • Lobby and lounge areas with nice finishes give the impression of luxury. In order to activate these areas, spaces need to be planned with flexibility in mind. This will encourage daily resident activity. Planning that creates nooks for intimate conversations as well as open space for special occasions and events will maximize the use of this real estate and energize this community area.
  • Relief in the plan, such as views and access to daylight, add to the overall experience. In large projects, the length of the corridor and distance to the elevator can be perceived as an obstacle. Designing a location where there are views to the exterior creates a mental landmark that helps reduce the perception of distance. Creating seating areas along this path provides opportunities for casual interactions and conversations or an accessible meeting place.
  • Fitness centers need to be inviting and accessible, yet views from the public areas should be limited so residents can enjoy their workout without feeling like they are on display.

Multi-family projects in construction and on the boards continue to enhance the landscape of the city as well as thriving suburban areas. This commitment to multi-family development is demonstrating the desire to invest in our neighborhoods, attract young professionals and provide an amenity rich lifestyle for empty nesters. Milwaukee is keeping in stride with national trends and developers are continuing to explore new ways to elevate apartment life.

AG Architecture (including previous generations of the firm) has been involved with multifamily projects in the Milwaukee area since the 1960’s and is continuing to create a sense of community with a number of exciting new projects.


The 2100


State Street Station



Wells Street Station

AG Architecture Wells Street Station Suburban Multi Family Exterior Rendering Front Entrance


The Reef

AG Architecture The Reef Suburban Multi Family Exterior Rendering Front Entrance

The Enclave

AG Architecture The Enclave Multi Family-Urban Tower 2