Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Michels Announces $100 Million Harbor District Plan

Apartments, a hotel, multiple office buildings and new restaurants planned.

By - Aug 6th, 2018 10:46 am
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R1VER rendering looking south. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

R1VER rendering looking south. Rendering by Rinka Chung Architecture.

Michels Corp., one of the nation’s largest infrastructure and utility contractors, unveiled plans for a massive $100 million development for a six-acre site in the northwest corner of Bay View Monday morning. The five-building complex, known as R1ver, would include a mix of apartments, first-floor commercial space, offices and a hotel, as well as a massive underground parking garage.

The company, headquartered in Brownsville, WI, hopes to begin construction on an eight-story office building this fall and would utilize 46,000 square feet spread over top three floors for a regional office. The remaining 74,000 square feet of space would be marketed to other tenants. An additional 100,000 square feet of office space is planned for two other buildings on the west side of the site.

A 103-room hotel would be developed at the southeast corner of the site at the intersection of S. 1st St. and W. Becher St. A 63-unit apartment building would be constructed to the north of the hotel along S. 1st St. with 20,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space lining the bottom floors of both buildings.

The firm intends to build the first office building, the hotel and the apartments in the first phase, with the later office buildings coming as demand dictates. The office space is being marketed by The Barry Co. WiRED Properties, led by Blair Williams, is serving as a consultant on the project.

The project, which includes a central plaza, is being designed by Rinka Chung Architecture. A public riverwalk component is planned to wrap the site, which the city would help finance.

The hotel and apartment buildings are likely to be built through a partnership with other developers.

Urban Milwaukee broke the news that the company was planning a major development for the site in late May, but details were not available at that point. The company confirmed it was planning a major project for the site during public meetings regarding the vacation of a stub-end street bisecting the site, but declined to provide any details. Michels released its plan Monday morning through the Milwaukee Business Journal.

Michels has approximately 6,000 employees. The company’s website boasts that the firm has over 12,000 pieces of equipment and 35 locations.

The four-parcel site, located at the western edge of the emerging Harbor District, is bordered on the north and west by the Kinnickinnic River. City records indicate Michels-affiliate Becher Development LLC owns two of the parcels, totaling 173,086 square feet, at 2011-2029 S. 1st St. and 2067 S. 1st St, which the firm acquired for $3.6 million in 2016. The other two parcels 218 W. Becher St. and 222 W. Becher St., totaling 93,393 square feet, are owned by Michels-affiliate 222 Becher Street LLC.

Horny Goat Brewing operated on the site from 2009 to 2015. The brewery operated a restaurant in the historic pumping station on the site and later added a three-seasons bar along the river. A large, heated tent was used for indoor volleyball and other events.

Demolition began on the pumping station, built for use by the Milwaukee Fire Department, last week. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but not locally-designated as historic. Only buildings that are locally-designated require a public hearing and Certificate of Appropriateness from the city for demolition.

In a statement posted online, area Alderman Tony Zielinski said: “All in all, we are stronger with this development than without this development. It was not feasible for the company to move forward with this development if the pumping station were to stay.”

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Michels Announces $100 Million Harbor District Plan”

  1. HamBam says:

    Disappointing to see the old pumping station go, but I’m excited for the development as a whole. I’m particularly excited for a hotel to serve the Bay View/Harbor District area!

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