18 • City LifeStyle • March 2001 B arry  R.  Mandel,  a  47-year-old entrepreneur, has been called “Mr.  Downtown”  and  is  con- sidered   a   “pioneer”   developer   in Milwaukee’s downtown housing market.  His  passion,  he  explains,  is building  urban  developments  in  his hometown and redeveloping some of Milwaukee’s   suburbs.   His   company, Mandel   Group,   Inc.   (MGI),   is   an integrated real estate services organization that develops, constructs and manages property. Mandel’s organization, which now employs about 110 people, has devel- oped   and   constructed   over   $100 million    in    residential    and    retail developments and has financed, pur- chased   and/or   sold   approximately $200 million of developments. “We’re   responsible   for   the   188- apartment    unit,    16-building    East Pointe  Commons,  the  first  phase  of the East Pointe master planned devel- opment—that’s  a  nine-block,  neigh- borhood   revitalization   effort,”   said Mandel.  “We  developed  East  Pointe Marketplace, the second phase; Astor Court at East Pointe, the third phase, which   created   a   276-condo   home development;    Lake    Bluff    at    East Pointe, a 110-unit apartment building overlooking  Lake  Michigan;  and  The Franklin at East Pointe, the fifth phase which is comprised of 114 apartment homes     in     a     pair     of     three-story buildings. We’ve also gone to the west side of downtown and developed and now manage Library Hill. It’s located close to the Marquette University campus, and even closer to the Milwaukee County Central Public Library, the Milwaukee Public Museum and the Midwest Express Center.” Mandel’s group has won national and local awards for design excellence, including  the  Urban  Land  Institute’s  1999  Award  for  Excellence  for  the East  Pointe  redevelopment.  Lake  Bluff  at  East  Pointe  won  the  National Association of Home Builder’s Best Mid or High Rise-2000; and Astor Court at   East   Pointe   won   the   Metropolitan   Builders   Association   of   Greater Milwaukee’s Best Luxury Condominium Community award for 1995.” Although   some   pundits   believe   downtown   Milwaukee’s   current renaissance boom will fizzle, Mandel disagrees. “I’m cautiously optimistic that    it’ll    continue.    I    believe    the demographics all point us in the right direction. “Milwaukee provides a great place for people to live. It has a great infra- structure.  It’s  safe  and  secure.  Lake Michigan and the Milwaukee River are tremendous    amenities.    We’ve    got restaurants,   shopping,   the   theater district,   good   public   transportation, and   professional   and   major   college teams   playing   ball   all   in   the   area. Downtown is becoming more pedes- trian   friendly   in   that   you   can   live downtown  and  walk  to  most  every- thing. Don’t forget the Riverwalk. And the   freeway   spur   will   be   coming down, removing a physical barrier to the north. That won’t be a detriment; it    won’t    complicate    traffic    flow. Housing   along   the   lake   or   river   is becoming  a premier area for living. “About   990   apartment   units   and 760 condos are being planned by all developers, not just us,” he continues. “And metro Milwaukee only develops   about   2,000   units   each year. Downtown becomes 20-25 per- cent   of   the   entire   market.   There could  be  overbuilding  in  any  given year.    But    over    the    long-term,    I think   downtown   will   be   a   viable marketplace.” Mandel  sees  the  next  five  to  ten years as a period of steady growth and opportunity. “Over that period of time, it won’t really matter if you live east or west of the river, or north or south of Wisconsin Avenue,” he says. “There’ll be housing in every nook and cran- ny of downtown. New housing will expand west to the Marquette campus, south to Walkers Point and on the north to Edgewood Avenue. In that time period, the area will be a vibrant downtown marketplace.” Mandel’s recent downtown projects include Trostel Square on the west side of the river near the Electric Power Plant. “It’s part of the Beer Line B housing  development  and  will  include  27  condo  homes  and  99  luxury apartments,”  he  explains.  “Also  for  2001  we  plan  80  condo  homes  at Rivercrest   Condos   at   Humboldt   and   North,   next   to   the   Jewel-Osco development.  And  we’ll  be  developing  120  luxury  apartments  and  40 condos in the Third Ward.” Every Nook and Cranny Mandel’s Milwaukee Barry Mandel, a.k.a. “Mr. Downtown,” is cautiously optimistic about Milwaukee’s renaissance boom. CORPORATE  PROFILE Story by Jordan Fox   Photography by  Barry Meinz