Milhaus' AYR community that offers studio to two-bedroom apartments in Indianapolis.
Milhaus Milhaus' AYR community that offers studio to two-bedroom apartments in Indianapolis.

Recently unveiling its new headquarters in downtown Indianapolis, Milhaus is excited to return to its Mile Square roots in a revitalized building. The new headquarters is next to Grid, Milhaus’ first Qualified Opportunity Zone development.

Grid’s 175 apartments are a fraction of the 3,000 units the firm has developed in central Indiana, with over half being in downtown Indianapolis. The economic impact of Milhaus’ downtown units exceeds $269 million, according to recent estimates.

In May, Milhaus broke ground in Indianapolis' Broad Ripple neighborhood on a project in partnership with Gershman Partners and Citimark. While experiencing recent growth with over 200 employees across the country, Milhaus also has regional offices in Kansas City, Missouri, and Austin, Texas, with additional employees in Florida and Denver.

To find out what’s next for Milhaus, Multifamily Executive tapped vice president of development Brad Vogelsmeier.

Brad Vogelsmeier, Milhaus vice president of development.
Milhaus Brad Vogelsmeier, Milhaus vice president of development.

MFE: What prompted the new headquarters in Indianapolis?

Vogelsmeier: The new headquarters was developed to accommodate previous growth we’ve seen in the company in the past 24 months and to accommodate future growth. Our team really enjoys being together in a physical office space. That may be counter to current work-from-home and hybrid trends, but being together in person is an important part of our company culture that was driven by our team rather than any in-office mandates. It was also important for us to really be present and invest in one of the downtown urban neighborhoods that not only gave Milhaus its start, but is also a neighborhood we’ve continued to build, invest, and own property in for the last decade.

MFE: How is Milhaus investing in Indianapolis and beyond?

Vogelsmeier: We’re a multifamily builder. Our investment is physical, tangible development, and this will continue to be our core focus and a big part of how we invest in our cities. This is a capital-intensive investment but also requires a lot of investment in the form of local engagement with boards, neighborhood leaders, nonprofit and municipal organizations, and more. We have to listen to and engage with those neighbors because, ultimately, we’re developing for their benefit, too.

MFE: Are there any projects in the pipeline that you’re most excited about?

Vogelsmeier: Other than the biased “all of them” answer, I’m excited about Versa here in Indianapolis. It was such a success to get a project like that started in this environment with so many key partnerships. I’m looking forward to it taking shape. I’m also excited about planting our flag in Texas by opening our first project in Dallas, Archive, which continues to fill up at an incredible pace. We also have a few upcoming Opportunity Zone investment projects in Phoenix, Colorado, Kansas City, and Indianapolis that we’ll soon be announcing, and those projects are always exciting to see take shape in new or underserved neighborhoods.

MFE: Can you share details on Milhaus’ employment growth in the past year?

Vogelsmeier: Our employment growth strategy is to build out a people-centered infrastructure to reach our goal of being a best-in-class operator in the country’s multifamily sector. To that end, we’ve seen a lot of growth in our capital markets and regional development teams. As we’ve started more projects and as we bring them online, we’ll continue to see growth in our construction and management teams, who really make up the lifeblood of the organization.

MFE: How has the first half of 2023 been for the firm?

Vogelsmeier: Challenging; however, we have a very focused team. While it’s been a fast-paced constant state of change as we respond to different capital conditions and continued lingering effects from the pandemic, our team remains diligent in finding ways to continue to deliver high-quality development projects that serve our communities and our investors.

MFE: What are some of the challenges you’re seeing in the multifamily development industry?

Vogelsmeier: It’s largely external pressures that are beyond our control that we have to respond to: elevated interest rates for longer periods of time, elevated construction costs, supply chain disruptions, rising insurance costs, etc. Counterbalancing those pressures, though, is the continued need for housing. How do you find ways to still provide a great product with macroeconomic conditions that make it difficult to start new projects? That’s what we have to figure out.

MFE: How is Milhaus facing the current challenges?

Vogelsmeier: By relying upon a really great team that’s creative, collaborative, and transparent. We’re fortunate to have built a strong reputation in the marketplace with customers and residents, as well as our investors and capital partners who know how diligent we are in the way we evaluate deals and manage risk. Overcommunication with all our partners is critical, from municipalities to neighbors to suppliers, subcontractors, lenders, and investors. That’s how we find creative ways to get new projects started.

MFE: How does Milhaus make a positive impact in each community it operates?

Vogelsmeier: Through front-end engagement. We engage as many neighborhood stakeholders as possible since they’re as invested in the projects as we are. Then we stay engaged. When we’re up and running, our on-site management teams are intentional about supporting local partners. They create a lot of events for residents to engage with the local community, as well as serve as philanthropic sponsors in all the areas in which we operate. Milhaus is a champion for the cities we are present in. We don’t just want to see Milhaus succeed, we want to see Indianapolis, Kansas City, Austin, and more succeed and grow.