Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

BMO Tower Tops Out

Plus: Northridge in property tax foreclosure, Ambassador Hotel expansion stuck, second hostel faces opposition

By - Jun 23rd, 2019 08:28 pm
BMO Tower workers celebrate topping off steel structure. Photo from Irgens Partners.

BMO Tower workers celebrate topping off steel structure. Photo from Irgens Partners.

The construction of BMO Tower reached an important milestone this week.

Workers from project general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son gathered atop the tower’s highest steel beam, 330 feet off the ground, to celebrate the steel structure reaching its peak.

Plenty of work remains to complete the 25-story tower by December for anchor tenant BMO Harris Bank and law firm Michael Best & Friedrich, but visible progress continues to be made every week. Just as iron workers celebrated installing the highest beam, progress hasn’t been idle below with the glass curtain wall seemingly climbing its way up the tower.

For more on Irgens Partners‘ $132 million, 359,920-square-foot tower, including tenant announcements, amenities and more, see our coverage from late March.

March 2019 Construction Photos


Potawatomi Hotel Expansion To Open August 15th

While it appears complete from the outside, workers are putting the finishing interior touches on Potawatomi Hotel & Casino’s second hotel tower. The casino has begun to accept reservations starting August 15th for the new tower, and could possibly open the hotel earlier, according to a report from Alex Zank.

The new 19-story, 119-room tower is attached at a 90-degree angle to the casino’s first 19-story, 381-room hotel tower. Should the August 15th date hold, it would be just a day shy of a year from when the casino celebrated topping off the new tower.

The project is being led by Gilbane Building Co., with support from the Forest County Potawatomi-owned Greenfire Management Services.

Northridge Mall in Property Tax Foreclosure

U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, the Chinese firm that owns the majority of the former Northridge Mall, is behind on its 2017 property taxes and the city has initiated property tax foreclosure proceedings to seize the property.

The vacant mall, which city officials announced a plan in early April to demolish and possibly acquire, isn’t likely to be acquired by the city through property tax foreclosure based on past experience. The owners have previously paid late bills, halting the city’s efforts to redevelop the property.

Sean Ryan reported last week that the group would need to pay $172,544.97 to satisfy any back taxes and late fees. As Ryan noted in his report, oddly enough the firm is current on its 2018 taxes.

For more on the mall’s future, including its strong resemblance to the fight over the Menomonee Valley, see our coverage from early June.

State Budget Fight Puts Ambassador Hotel Expansion On Hold

A proposal to develop a new state office building at N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave. appears to be on hold after the state legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance stripped a $98.5 million capital allocation proposed by Governor Tony Evers from the budget.

The move is causing problems for Ambassador Hotel owner Rick Wiegand, who is attempting to secure financing to redevelop the former Wisconsin Avenue School across the street from the proposed office building site. Wiegand, who acquired the building from the city in December 2017, is proposing to turn the building into an extended-stay hotel.

“I know no one is going to feel comfortable until they see progress being made,” Wiegand told reporter Tom Daykin about the state’s site. Progress, according to Wiegand, could include simply demolishing the buildings on the full block.

An affiliate of Near West Side Partners, an entity led by MillerCoors, Marquette University, Aurora Advanced Health Care, Potawatomi and Harley-Davidson, owns the site and would sell it to the state as part of the proposal. The city sold land at a discount to help the group form the site.

A proposal to develop a food and beverage center in the former Milwaukee County City Campus office complex, now owned by Wiegand, also is on hold because of a lack of tenant commitments Daykin reported.

Wiegand is considering moving forward with a proposal to redevelop two properties along N. 27th St. north of City Campus into commercial space and 30 apartments.

The final budget, which has not yet been approved, would govern state spending through 2021.

Cream City Hostel Opening

Cream City Hostel, the city’s first such project, will open next week on the border of Riverwest and Harambee. Our profile takes you inside the building as partners Wendy Mesich and Carolyn Weber work to get the building at 500 E. Center St. ready. Full disclosure: I am a minority investor in the entity that owns the property.

Second Hostel Faces Opposition

A proposal to develop a second hostel in Milwaukee on the city’s far west side faces opposition. Saint One purchased the building at 9000 W. Burleigh St. and wants to redevelop it into a cafe, coworking space and hostel. But many neighbors and Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd are opposing the proposal.

DNC to the Milwaukee Center

The Democratic National Committee is close to finalizing a lease in the Milwaukee Center office tower according to a report from Rich Kirchen.

The Milwaukee Center, located at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave., is a short walk from Fiserv Forum and the Wisconsin Center. The tower is attached to the recently opened Saint Kate The Arts hotel.

The committee will lease space in the Associated Bank-owned tower through the Democratic National Convention in July 2020. The convention, run by Joe Solmonese, will relocate to the tower from its temporary office in the Wells Building.

It’s not the only DNC leasing news though. The 42, which contains Glass + Griddle restaurant, Milwaukee Brewing Company‘s 9th Street brewery, an event venue and rooftop bar, has been leased for five days during the convention according to Kirchen. The tenant was not disclosed by F Street Group president Scott Lurie. The building is a few blocks west of Fiserv Forum and can host crowds in excess of 1,000 people.

Construction Ramps Up on Trio of Downtown Hotels

At least visually, construction work on three new downtown hotels by JR Hospitality and Hawkeye Hotels is moving faster. The last remaining building on the site at the southwest corner of E. Michigan St. and N. Jefferson St. is now coming down. Catch the action in our latest installment of Friday Photos.

Walker’s Point Site for Sale

The City of Milwaukee is marketing a vacant site at S. 1st St. and W. Lapham Blvd. A request for proposals document details that the city wants an urban building for the 8,400-square-foot lot. The asking price? $59,000. Proposals are due July 31st.

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More about the Future of Northridge Mall

Read more about Future of Northridge Mall here

More about the New State Office Building

Read more about New State Office Building here

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