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Sound familiar? Any news is good news for housing market

By Joe Lanane

The Milwaukee metro residential market is a long way from returning to pre-recession status, but there are isolated instances of success worth noting.

The area saw a 3.5 percent sales increase in single-family home sales last month compared to December 2009, according to a news release issued by Mike Ruzicka, president of the Greater Milwaukee Association of Realtors.

Granted, that increase is negated by the 13.4 percent decline overall in 2010 home sales, but it is nice to end the year on a high note. In the housing industry, any good news is encouraging at this point, as Ruzicka has often pointed out during our conversations.

Perhaps more encouraging on the development end is the revitalization of a New Berlin condominium project originally approved in 2004. The Deer Creek Parkway Homes, a condo development that includes one 15-unit building and three 34-unit buildings, was revitalized after a six-year layoff in construction. Only the 15-unit building was completed, but the developer will seek approval on an amended development plan later this month to construct the other three buildings.

The original plan appeared so far from reality last year that the developer proposed converting the condo proposal into affordable apartments. That idea was met with such resistance that New Berlin residents actually forced an unsuccessful recall election of Mayor Jack Chiovatero and one city alderman in support of the new proposal.

The city’s Plan Commission rescinded its original approval, and fortunately the wait has paid off for the condo project.

Milwaukee residential developers and contractors can only hope these positive tidbits spark optimism around the area.

Joe Lanane is a staff writer at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1806.

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