Hammes HQ Nears Completion
Brookfield firm will move Downtown before the end of the year.
Almost two years after it was announced, a new office building has arisen Downtown. Hammes Company, a Brookfield-based healthcare real estate development firm, will relocate to the city when the building is finished later this year.
Workers from Miron Construction and a host of subcontractors are hitting the home stretch on building the five-story, 94,000-square-foot building. The building’s distinctive feature, a copper dome, is now visible from many blocks away.
The project at 210 E. Knapp St., which doesn’t include any public financing, is welcome news for the city. It will turn a vacant site into a steady stream of revenue to pay for police, teachers and pothole repair. But its reception among Urban Milwaukee readers has been mixed with many criticizing its classical style. City Plan Commission member Whitney Gould chastised the building at a hearing on the project by stating “this is going to become an object lesson for the future on how not to build a building.” Urban Milwaukee architecture critic Tom Bamberger declared that “The Hammes headquarters…has none of the virtues of Jefferson’s architecture and all the vices of late 20th century suburban development.”
The comments at an October 2016 press conference announcing the project couldn’t have been more different. Mayor Tom Barrett offered nothing but praise. Alderman Nik Kovac, who represents the site, called it a “classic, strong masonry building.” He went on to salute the integration of the 360-stall parking garage. That’s no small compliment, as Kovac gives his annual “the good, the bad and the ugly” tour of downtown parking garages as part of Doors Open Milwaukee.
The building is being designed by a partnership of Virginia-based DGP Architects and Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects. And while firm CEO and founder Jon Hammes has cited Thomas Jefferson as inspiration for the project, he’s using at least one building material Jefferson never had access to – steel. The steel skeleton of the building, which will eventually be hidden by a more traditional brick facade, is clearly visible today. Miron Construction is leading the construction of the building.
Approximately 80 Hammes employees will occupy 36,000 square feet on the top two floors of the building. The remaining space, including street-level commercial space, is available for lease.
The building, including the attached parking garage, is expected to cost between $27 million and $30 million to build. Hammes acquired the 1.5-acre parcel in 2015 from BMO Harris Bank for $1 million. The triangular-shaped lot is bordered by E. Knapp St., N. Market. St. and N. Water St.
A second phase is planned immediately north of the building. The second building, also planned for offices, will range anywhere from five to eight floors according to Hammes, with 90,000 to 100,000 square feet, depending on market demand. Hammes told Urban Milwaukee in October 2016 that he anticipates building the second building within three years.
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