As Milwaukee officials continue to bask in their city’s ongoing construction boom, the value of projects for which municipal building permits were issued surpassed $303 million last year.
That figure was up about 9 percent from the $278 million worth of permits pulled in 2014.
The biggest contributors to last year’s higher figure were apartment and hotel projects. Of the building permits pulled last year, $108 million worth were for apartments, making up more than a third of the total. Hotels, for their part, came in at just under $34 million.
Among individual projects, the most expensive project for which a building permit was issued last year was a $34 million, 168-unit apartment complex on North Water Street. This project comes as the third phase of a development known as the North End, for which Mandel Group is listed as the contractor on the building permit.
Among hotels, the Kimpton Hotel on East Chicago Street in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward was the largest for which a building permit was pulled. Its $24 million estimated cost also made it the second priciest development in the city.
The 134,300-square-foot hotel is being built primarily by Milwaukee-based C.D. Smith Construction and will have 158 rooms after being completed around June. Its opening will mark San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotel and Restaurants’ entry into the Milwaukee market.
Milwaukee, meanwhile, saw about $11 million worth of permits pulled last year for single-family-related construction. The comparable figure for two-family construction was about $2.6 million, that for offices was about $31 million, and that of elementary and secondary schools was about $15.5 million.
Helping to buoy the residential totals was the city’s work to spur home remodeling. In January of last year, city officials created the STRONG Homes Loan program, which offers loans to help homeowners hire repair contractors.
The initiative began in the wake of the housing market’s troubles of 2007 and 2008, when several waves of foreclosure struck various city neighborhoods. STRONG Homes was meant to help homeowners who were trying to stay current on mortgage and tax payments, yet were unable, through no fault of their own, to borrow money from more usual sources to make necessary home improvements.
STRONG Homes loans can go toward projects such as roof replacements, porch improvements and siding repairs.
Yet, despite all the signs of a construction boom, the value of building permits issued by Milwaukee last year came out to about a fifth of what Minneapolis saw in 2015. The Minnesota city issued permits for $1.39 billion worth of construction projects last year, a figure that was actually a step back from the $2 billion issued the year before.
As was true in Milwaukee, hotel developments were a big driver of Minneapolis’ construction tally. Four new hotels and a substantial remodeling project — including a $50 million Embassy Suites and the $26 million AC Hotel, both in the city’s downtown — were the source of some of the biggest building permits pulled last year.
Also similar to Milwaukee, Minnesota’s construction market received a boost from multi-family housing projects. There were 17 new housing projects undertaken in 2015, most notably the $38 million Portland Tower condo building. That project is still under construction.
“The confidence investors have in Minneapolis today will translate into positive economic growth tomorrow,” Betsy Hodges, mayor of Minneapolis, said in a statement. “I remain committed to making sure that milestones like this continue to happen as we work together to transform Minneapolis into a globally recognized city.”
Yet, even with the larger numbers, Minnesota’s building boom should not necessarily be deemed greater than Milwaukee’s. For one, the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan statistical area is home to nearly 3.5 million people, whereas the Milwaukee-Waukesha metropolitan area is home to only more than 1.5 million.
Dolan Media Newswires’ Karlee Weinmann also contributed to this report.