Zurn HQ Rising in Reed Street Yards
First new building in city's water technology park nearly complete.
The first new building in Milwaukee’s Reed Street Yards corridor is nearly complete. Zurn, owned by Milwaukee-based Rexnord Corp. since 2007, will soon relocate their global headquarters to a new building at 425 W. Freshwater Way. Occupying the 52,000 square-foot building will be 120 employees earning an average of $75,000/year.
The building is being developed by CD Smith and Dennis Klein‘s Klein Development. The partnership bought the 1.6 acre lot for $1.4 million from General Capital Group in August 2015. In addition to the three-story building, a 75-stall surface parking lot is included in the development, sandwiched between the new building and the 6th Street bridge.
Zurn is a plumbing products manufacturer (check the toilet next time you flush) that was previously based in Pennsylvania and was awarded $1.9 million in subsidies by the city for bringing their headquarters and 120 employees to the city. The subsidy comes in two forms: (1) a $900,000 forgivable loan; and (2) a $1 million grant if the company has 35 full-time employees at the site by March 2017 and an additional 85 by March 2021. Rexnord, the Zurn parent, will also receive $2 million from Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. if it reaches the employment targets. In total, the corporation could receive up to $32,500 per job it brings to Milwaukee.
Milwaukee-based Rexnord employs 7,300 people across the globe. An early believer in the Reed Street Yards, the company relocated their headquarters to the Global Water Center in 2014. The firm is known to many Milwaukeeans for their gear-making division Falk Corporation, one of the original firms to locate in the Menomonee Valley and which Rexnord acquired in 2005. Others may know its history which traces back to 1892 when it was founded in Milwaukee as the Chain Belt Company, which later became Rex Chainbelt. In 1970 the company acquired another old-line Milwaukee business, Nordberg Manufacturing (founded in 1886), and became known as Rexnord.
About the Reed Street Yards
Reed Street Yards, a 17-acre swath of largely vacant land, is targeted to become a water research and technology business park under a public-private partnership.
The mantra of real estate is “location, location, location” and the business park has a good one. It’s located just south of Downtown, between the Harley-Davidson Museum and Iron Horse Hotel. To the west is The Tannery complex, which boasts the newly completed River Place Lofts. To the south is the rapidly changing Walker’s Point neighborhood, with the Brix Apartment Lofts capping a stretch of S. 5th St. that is rapidly changing (profiled last week).
The city hopes to eventually have about one-million square-feet of office space in the Reed Street Yards. A planned 80,000 square-foot building known as Water Tech One is already approved, but developer General Capital Group has yet to break ground on that facility and a for-lease sign touting the project occupies the site.
To date, the city has authorized spending over $14 million from a tax-incremental financing district (#75) created for the area. The funds have been invested in public infrastructure including a riverwalk segment, an extension of Freshwater Way through the site (formerly Pittsburgh Ave.), a Bublr Bikes bike sharing station and public parking at the Brix Apartment Lofts. An additional $5 million was set aside for a Reed Street Yards public-private venture to provide incentives for new businesses to locate in the area. Payback on the TIF district is currently ahead of schedule, and estimated to be completed by 2030.
In order to encourage development in the area, the city also set up the area as a Development Incentive Zone, establishing guidelines for building design and reducing the number of public meetings required for project approval.
What Neighborhood Is It?
What neighborhood is the new building in? Depends on who you ask. According to city development commissioner Rocky Marcoux, the Reed Street Yards is part of the Menomonee Valley. However, the city’s official neighborhood map places it in Walker’s Point. How long until there is enough development along Freshwater Way that Reed Street Yards is a neighborhood unto itself?