Outlook bright for Milwaukee commercial real estate

Some experts believe it's a great time for architecture in Milwaukee.

Local commercial property owners, industry insiders and investors are starting to show their faith in the Milwaukee-area commercial real estate sector, according to the results of an annual survey.

Commercial real estate professionals are more confident in the current state of the market than in years past, results from the annual Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin (CARW) indicated.

The study revealed that 80 percent of CARW members believe the commercial sector is improving, which is a massive surge from the results posted just last year.

In 2012, only 43 percent of CARW members believed the market was improving. That figure was even smaller in 2011 and 2010, when just 35 percent and 32 percent of respective respondents believed the commercial market was getting better.

"I think (the survey results) are very similar to what we're hearing from the brokers," said Jim Villa, the CARW president. "They're very bullish, very positive. There are some good-sized deals happening."

The study stated that 1.3 percent of respondents in the 2013 survey believed the current commercial real estate market was weak. That's down nearly 7 percent from the 8 percent that uttered the same sentiment in the 2012 survey. In 2011, 36 percent of respondents described the market as weak.

Meanwhile, 18.7 percent of 2013 respondents believe the market will remain flat.

When asked what awaits the area's commercial real estate scene in 2014, the majority of CARW members remained hopeful. Nearly 90 percent of respondents believed the Wisconsin commercial real estate market will improve in 2014, while just 10.7 weren't counting on it getting any better over the next year.

Good time for architecture in Milwaukee
With a number of cutting-edge buildings in the works, Matt Rinka, principal of Milwaukee-based Rinka Chung Architecture Inc., recognizes what an exciting time it is for local architecture.

"I think it's an amazing time for Milwaukee architecture," Rinka said.

Rinka stated that major projects are starting to gain traction as a number of property owners and developers become more willing to take risks and endure some public outcries, which can include criticism of a building.

"It all starts with people willing to take that risk," Rinka added. "It's not enough to just talk about this stuff. You have to have people take the risk to go above the criticism. That's what's different right now."

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