Prior to the Great Recession, the population of downtown Milwaukee surged as part of a national trend of many empty nesters and young professionals reversing a decades-long population shift to move downtown from the suburbs to seek a more vibrant urban lifestyle.
From 2004 to 2007, 3,615 new multifamily housing units, mostly condominiums, were added in downtown Milwaukee, according to the Department of City Development. From 2000 to 2010, the population of downtown Milwaukee rose 25.5 percent to 21,395, according to Census data used in a market study conducted for the Downtown Milwaukee Business Improvement District.
However, the downtown condo market bubble burst as the national housing market collapsed and the Great Recession took hold. The number of multifamily housing units built downtown from 2008 to 2011 was 1,477, according to the DCD, and many of those were likely in projects that began before the Great Recession hit.