Plats and Parcels: More Good News for Downtown » Urban Milwaukee
Graham Kilmer
Plats and Parcels

More Good News for Downtown

New hotel, new office tenants and possibly a new office building.

By - Jul 15th, 2018 03:50 pm
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Conceptual rendering of the Grand Avenue Mall converted to office space and a food hall. Rendering from The Kubala Washatko Architects.

Conceptual rendering of the Grand Avenue Mall converted to office space and a food hall. Rendering from The Kubala Washatko Architects.

Right now, there are some questions about how hot the apartment market is Downtown, but the market for office space continues to heat up.

Graef, an engineering firm with offices throughout the state, is looking to move its Milwaukee office to Downtown (from the west side of the city), as Sean Ryan reported in the Milwaukee Business Journal. The firm, which is expected to lease approximately 35,000 square-feet of space, could end up being an anchor office tenant in the redeveloped Shops of Grand Avenue.

Recently, a number of firms, some already Downtown, have been moving into new space in the heart of the city. Notably, Mark Irgens’ shiny 833 East office tower has attracted several new tenants. He’ll hope to continue the momentum as his firm develops another new tower, anchored this time by BMO Harris Bank.

And despite a company-wide bankruptcy, the former Bon-Ton locations have been noted for their prime real estate value. Chicago-based North Wells Capital bought the Bon-Ton headquarters building at 640 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. (formerly N. 4th St.) in 2017 prior to the liquidation, and is now moving forward with a redevelopment of the entire building into what will be known as HUB640.

Retail activity remains robust in key areas downtown. Corri Hess reported a Chicago-based beauty retailer is opening a new location in the Historic Third Ward and that a Harley-Davidson dealership may open near the new arena.

New Hotel Opening

Westown will get a new hotel next year.

My colleague Jeramey Jannene already dissected the building permits to provide details on what amenities would be included in the hotel, but now the company is confirming the plans.

Choice Hotels announced this week that downtown’s first Cambria Hotel will open next summer. It will be four stories with 132 rooms. And it will replace what is now a parking lot at 503-521 N. Plankinton Ave.

This new hotel is likely good for a few other projects in the city, like the soon-to-open Milwaukee Bucks arena. And, it will be good for the proposed new convention center, also nearby.

As Corri Hess has reported, consultants have told the Wisconsin Center District, the organization that operates the convention center and arena, there will need to be at least 1,000 new hotel rooms within a three-block radius.

Now, the Cambria might be just outside the three-block radius, but it’s close. But it’s not outside the 2.5 percent county hotel room tax, nor the city’s 7 percent hotel room tax, all of which goes to the Wisconsin Center District.

All Wood Office Building

As Jannene reported late Friday, New Land Enterprises is planning a seven-story office building at 834 N. Plankinton Ave.

It’ll be the first Milwaukee building made from mass timber, an engineered wood product. And it will be structurally safe in a fire. Well, as safe as a building on fire can be, I suppose.

Along with an interior enriched with lots of natural light and exposed timber, the building will also have a smaller environmental footprint than its concrete and steel counterparts.

Jannene has more on the project from New Land Director Tim Gokhman in his story.

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