Top Rust Belt Markets for Construction Activity

More than 68,700 units were underway in the Rust Belt as of June, Yardi Matrix data shows. Combined, the top five markets in the region include some 40,500 units underway, accounting for 59 percent of the total pipeline. Construction activity lagged in 2020 due to the pandemic, with most markets recording a drop in multifamily deliveries.

However, 2021 is showing signs of recovery, as projected deliveries are expected to surpass last year’s completions. The uptick in development activity has been prompted by a shift in investor interest from coastal markets to smaller, stabilized Midwestern markets. Utilizing Yardi Matrix data, the table below highlights the top five markets for multifamily construction activity in the Rust Belt region.

Rank Market Units Under Construction
1 Chicago 16,491
2 Columbus 7,945
3 Detroit 6,054
4 Milwaukee 5,271
5 Indianapolis 4,744

5. Indianapolis

Indianapolis. Image via

More than 4,700 units were underway in Indianapolis as of June. The market’s affordable cost of living attracted both renters and homeowners, with 2020 completions amounting to more than 2,300 units and some 3,000 apartments a year earlier.

Close to 3,000 units are scheduled for completion by the end of 2021, with development concentrated in the Westfield-Noblesville submarket (906 units under construction). Some 900 units were underway in downtown Indianapolis, including Residences at CityWay Phase II, the largest community under construction in the metro. Developed by Buckingham Cos., the 402-unit property is expected to come online later this year.

4. Milwaukee

Milwaukee. Image via

Developers were working on projects totaling more than 5,200 units, with more than half of those slated for completion by the end of the year. Projected deliveries are expected to surpass last year’s completions (1,411 units) without reaching pre-pandemic levels—more than 3,500 apartments came online in the metro in 2019.

One of the largest projects underway in the market is The Ascent, a 259-unit community rising in downtown Milwaukee. New Land Enterprises and Wiechmann Enterprises broke ground on the 25-story project in 2020. Upon completion, scheduled for the summer of 2022, the 25-story property will be the tallest mass timber tower in the world.

3. Detroit

Detroit. Image via

With Detroit on the path to recovery thanks to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Michigan COVID Recovery Plan, some 6,050 units were under construction in the metro. More than 3,600 of those are anticipated to reach completion by the end of the year.

The number of units slated to come online surpasses the combined deliveries of 2020 and 2019 (2,758 units).

As of June, the largest project underway was Moceli Cos.’ Montclair at Partridge Creek, a 613 -unit property in Clinton Township, expected to come online in the second quarter of 2024. The community includes units ranging between 1,324 and 1,835 square feet, and unlike the majority of communities rising in the suburbs, it will be located close to the Mall at Partridge Creek, a large outdoor shopping destination.

2. Columbus

Columbus. Image via

Nearly 8,000 units were under construction in Columbus, with more than half (4,563 units) scheduled for completion by the end of the year. Total deliveries in 2020 amounted to 4,527 units, while 2019 completions equaled a little more than 3,400 units.

Although the pandemic slowed down development activity, construction picked up the pace in 2021. Nearly 3,000 units were underway in the suburbs, including the largest property underway in the metro—and one of the largest in Ohio.

In Grove City, Ohio, Kelley Cos. is developing Beulah Place, a 384-unit community spread out across 212 acres, which represents the redevelopment of a former racetrack. Beulah Place is anchored by a large central park and sits within walking distance of shops and restaurants. Completion is anticipated for next summer.

1. Chicago

Chicago. Image via Pixabay

Developers were busy in Chicago, with close to 16,500 units under construction as of June. Some 11,000 apartments are scheduled for completion by December, exceeding both 2020 deliveries (7,969 units) and pre-pandemic completions (10,816 units in 2019).

CLK Properties is developing the largest project in the metro—the 924-unit Courtyards on the Park in Des Plaines, Ill. Upon completion, scheduled for the first quarter of 2023, the property will comprise 154 buildings with units averaging between 450 and 950 square feet. The Tennessee-based developer owns more than 500 units in the metro.

Yardi Matrix covers all multifamily properties of 50-plus units in size across 133 markets in the United States. This ranking reflects developments underway within that sample group.