Study reveals dramatic need for Door County housing

Posted on Feb 4, 2019 :: Insight on Business, Web Exclusive.
Jessica Thiel
Posted by of Insight Publications

The newly released Door County Housing Analysis reveals that northern and central Door County are collectively hundreds of apartments short of what is needed to meet the demand.

Last year, Door County Economic Development Corp., along with support from both the public and private sector, initiated a study looking at the state of housing in the county. AECOM, an American multinational engineering firm that provides design, consulting, construction and management services, completed the study. Jim Schuessler, executive director of the DCEDC, called the results astonishing.

“People considering relocation to Door County over the past few years have experienced the challenge of finding housing, especially rental stock,” Schuessler said. “This analysis reveals just how far behind we are to meet the present demand. We need to grab a gear and get needed housing online.”

Sturgeon Bay has 164 market-rate apartments either newly completed or under construction. This still leaves central Door County with fewer than half the apartments needed to meet demand. Central Door County needs over 200 apartments, the study showed.

Sister Bay will have 40 apartments available before the end of 2019, but these satisfy less than one-third of the current need, and northern Door County needs another 165 apartments.

Population growth through housing development can mean a great deal to the local economy. Considering Door County’s median household income, each hundred housing units can mean nearly $5.4 million in wages to the local economy. Structural rental and owner-occupied housing alone mean that more than $25 million has been held out of the local economy, in addition to the increased tax base.

Added housing would be an asset to local companies that currently have hundreds of jobs available. Overall, another 376 apartments are needed to catch up to demand and to meet the near-future need.

In addition, more baby boomers are retiring, and this has fueled an increase of about 1,200 senior households (age 60-74) since 2010. Senior housing analysis revealed a future need for another 200 apartment units and 575 owner-occupied units spread across southern, central and northern Door County.

For many years, the demand for more seasonal housing has grown. The numbers bear out the need for another 455 employee beds just to catch up to demand, and near-term demand requires another 115 seasonal employee beds across the county.