Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Broadway Connection Building Is a Go

Law firm Husch Blackwell will anchor Jeffers' nine-story Class A office building.

By - Dec 14th, 2018 09:58 am
Broadway Connection. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

Broadway Connection. Rendering by Engberg Anderson Architects.

Developer Joshua Jeffers has landed an anchor tenant for his first Class A office building. Law firm Husch Blackwell will lease 71,000 square feet spread over the top three floors in the proposed, nine-story Broadway Connection.

The law firm will relocate 180 employees from its offices at the Cathedral Place office tower to the new building at 511 N. Broadway. The firm, which has approximately 100 attorneys and paralegals, was formed by the 2016 merger of Husch Blackwell and Whyte, Hirschboeck Dudek. The latter has been located at Cathedral Place for 15 years, which is the agreed length for its lease with J. Jeffers & Co.

“We have put a lot of thought and deliberation into how to organize and design the new office,” said Husch Blackwell’s Milwaukee office managing partner Jack Enea. “The most compelling argument for building an office from scratch was the ability to design it exactly to our own specifications. This allows for a better use of space, greater efficiency and cost management, and more amenities for our attorneys and staff.”

As has been seen in a wave of office relocations, the law firm will actually reduce the amount of office space it leases with the move through more efficient building and floor plan design. Engineering firm GRAEF and law firms Godfrey & Kahn and Michael Best & Friedrich also saved space when signing new leases with their respective new buildings.

Husch Blackwell will find a wealth of amenities within two blocks, including a streetcar stop, the Milwaukee Public Market, the Milwaukee RiverWalk, multiple hotels and the Swinging Door restaurant.

The firm will relocate to the J. Jeffers & Co. building upon its completion in the third quarter of 2020. The law firm has 19 offices spread across the country and over 700 attorneys.

About the Broadway Connection

Urban Milwaukee has covered Jeffers’ project through a number of iterations. In 2015 the developer first proposed a mixed-use building for the site. By late 2017, the building’s design was altered to take an S-shape, allowing more natural light to reach the firm’s adjacent development projects. Then Jeffers pivoted to a modern traditional shape in 2018, and in turn, eliminated any apartments in the proposal.

The building will occupy the remaining lot on a block filled with three of the city’s largest historic buildings. To the north of the proposed building lie the Mackie and Mitchell buildings, both of which have been restored by Jeffers in recent years. To the west is the Button Block Building, which Bear Development has recently redeveloped into a Homewood Suites hotel.

“We want to put something here that is sort of this blend of historic, but is still fundamentally a modern building,” said Jeffers an October hearing on the building’s design. The project site is located within the city-designated East Side Commercial Historic District, giving the Historic Preservation Commission oversight of the building’s design.

The site, which is across E. Clybourn St. from the elevated Interstate 794, is good for multi-family development, but even better for office users, said Jeffers in October. “[The highway] takes away the feel of the neighborhood, but for an office user it’s an amenity,” he told the commission, citing the potential for signage and ease of access.

Jeffers said the switch from apartments to office space also allows more value to be derived from the parking. “It ends up being a really nice synergy,” he said. The plans call for allowing the office users to use the parking during the day, while nearby Homewood Suites and Hilton Garden Inn hotels will be able to use the parking on nights and weekends.

The building will have a lot of parking. Plans submitted to the city show approximately 170 stalls spread over the building’s first four floors. With the law firm taking the top three floors, Jeffers will have only first-floor commercial space and floors five and six to lease to other tenants.

The building’s name evokes its location near the streetcar line and its ability to connect East Town and the Historic Third Ward. “A huge part of our goal here is to create more connectivity with the Third Ward… We are really hoping this becomes a much more walkable, urban environment,” Jeffers said in 2017. The site is currently a surface parking lot, one of many along E. Clybourn St. and Interstate 794 that deaden the walkability between the two neighborhoods.

The developer intends to break ground on the project this spring. Final approval is still needed from the Historic Preservation Commission. Updated designs were submitted to the commission recently, but the measure was held last week at Jeffers’ request.

J. Jeffers & Co. has been one of the most active development firms in Milwaukee in recent years. The firm has multiple projects underway in Westown, just completed developing a new home for America’s Black Holocaust Museum along two apartment buildings, is working to redevelop the Milwaukee Athletic Club and just landed a new brewery for E. North Ave.

October 2018 Renderings

2017 Renderings

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