Dave Reid

Make Way for Wisconsin’s Largest Building!

Plan for new NML building has been expanded to make it the state's largest building.

By - Apr 23rd, 2013 03:33 pm

As expected, Northwestern Mutual Life’s 33-story 550 foot office tower received a key approval at today’s Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee meeting. The $73.3 million TIF, Tax Incremental District No. 78, was approved by the committee to support the financing of the project.

What wasn’t expected was the building’s increase in size. During the meeting Rocky Marcoux, Department of City Development Commissioner, made it official: NML’s downtown office building will be the “largest building under roof in the State of Wisconsin.”

The revised plan is a 1,114,000 square foot building, almost 300,000 square feet larger than first proposed, to accommodate NML’s growth through 2025. The proposed structure will surpass the U.S. Bank building, which, at 1,077,000 square feet, is currently the state’s largest building. The U.S. Bank building will remain the state’s tallest, with 42 stories.

The NML project’s estimated cost is now $400 million, up from the initially planned $300 million, and the planned TIF amount dedicated to the NML partion of the project was increased to $54 million from the originally proposed $48 million. In conjunction with the increased TIF funding the city and NML agreed on a new job creation goals of 1,900 new jobs.

The increased building size allows for the addition of a four-story section along Mason St. This new 400,000 square-foot commons area will include training and meeting rooms, and a cafeteria. Marcoux explained that the expanded footprint intends to “embrace Mason Street.” A portion of the increased TIF funds will be used for public improvements along Mason St., and $18 million of the city’s portion of the TIF will be used for improvements as part of the Lakefront Gateway Project.

Ald. Willie Wade was fine with the TIF increase, saying, “TIFing is not the evil that some people say it is, I personally think we are conservative with it.” Ald. Jim Bohl was more rhapsodic, describing the project in baseball terms: “it literally is hitting two grand slams in the same inning.”

The file received unanimous support by the committee.

Correction: An early version of this article reported the total TIF amount as $54 million which was incorrect, the correct amount is $73.3 million.  The $54 million is the portion of the TIF assigned to NML.

The Bookends Project is Back

The NML approval wasn’t the only big news coming out of today’s ZND committee meeting.  During the discussion of a seemingly insignificant file that would allow ABM Parking Services to use the lot at 700 E. Kilbourn Ave. as a parking lot, it was made clear that this was intended for temporary use. That’s because a project is in the works for this site, possibly the previously approved New Land Enterprises 19-story 224-unit mixed used apartment building known as the Bookends which had been planned for this lot, and as Ald. Robert Bauman stated during the meeting, “there’s a real chance this project will go forward soon.” The project has been discussed but delayed in the past. At this time it’s not clear if the details of the project have changed.

Bookends Renderings



Categories: Real Estate

14 thoughts on “Make Way for Wisconsin’s Largest Building!”

  1. Jerad says:

    Last I had heard they were still giving estimates for stories and height. When did they release the specific 33-story and 550 ft figures?

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Jerad Today, during the ZND meeting those were the numbers used….

  3. John G. says:

    Fantastic news, looking forward to the renderings!

  4. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Rock and roll!

    I certainly hope the design is thoughtful. It’s not easy to make a building look good so close to a big box like the USBank building – especially if it’s going to be shorter…. but bring it on!

  5. Frank says:

    I wonder how the TIF financing would effect the proposed Cathedral Square property tax increase.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @Frank the NML TIF boundary doesn’t include Cathedral Square (I should have spelled that out, it just covers the building site) so I don’t see any connection that way. Now in the long run I would have to think have a new expensive neighborhood will raise property values in the neighborhood.

  7. Frank says:

    @ Dave –

    That is not what I meant. NML property taxes would have increased with the Cathedral Square proposal. Also, doesn’t someone from NML sit on the committee that proposed the increase? Since NML now has a TIF deal in the works, wouldn’t they forgo any future tax increases?

  8. Dave Reid says:

    @Frank Oh… the NID. Good question. But first with a TIF NML won’t forgo tax increases, it’s just where the money goes i.e. back to pay off the debt on the project. That said, and I’ll have to ask around on this, but I believe the NID would be handled outside of the TIF.

  9. Marc says:

    Excited by the NML news.

    Shocked that the city still entertains any projects connected with New Land.

  10. Dave Reid says:

    @Marc As far as NLE, that is just the last approved project for the site so it could have changed. That said if it is the Bookends and they have their own financing in place and I the zoning is place NLE could build as a matter of right.

  11. Ron Slate says:

    You’ve quoted the new NML building to be 1.14 million square feet, 33 floors and 550 ft.. Has the building footprint been set for this structure? The height seems understated unless the footprint is very big. For instance the Comcast Center here in Phila. has 1.25million square feet, 58 floors and 975ft.

  12. Dave Reid says:

    @Ron As I mentioned in the story there is a 400,000 square foot 4-story section that will run along Wells, which accounts for the lack of additional floors.

  13. Andy says:

    Yes, I’m excited about this building and am anxiously awaiting the renderings, BUT it is a damned shame that the decision is apparently final– this once in a generation opportunity will NOT be constructed to be the state’s tallest building. The First Wisconsin tower will STILL, after forty-plus years, be the signature building on our skyline. I am very disappointed in the executive leadership on NML . . . this could have truly been an exciting new point in Milwaukee’s history. Now, it’s just another building with no particular historic significance. It’s another wasted opportunity. It’s another case of “think adequate” rather than think big. It’s so . . . . . Milwaukee. The big, hyped, NML statement that, ‘meowed.’ Nobody cares that it’s the state’s largest office building. It’s about height– it’s about being iconic– it’s about the start of incredible things– it’s about a fresh new generation on distinctive buildings in Milwaukee’s skyline . . . . uhmm, well actually, now it’s none of those things. We are blessed with civic and business leadership with a singular lack of vision. Damn!

  14. Sam C. says:

    Good news! I look forward to the renderings as well. I hope it won’t be white.

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