Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

BMO Celebrates Topping Off Tower

Workers lift signed steel beam to top of 25-story tower. What comes next?

By - Jun 25th, 2019 03:47 pm
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Mark Irgens and Jud Snyder sign the highest beam in BMO Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mark Irgens and Jud Snyder sign the highest beam in BMO Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Construction workers, bankers and real estate brokers gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate the construction of the 25-story, 335-foot BMO Tower reaching its peak.

“As mayor, my favorite bird without a doubt is the crane,” said Mayor Tom Barrett moments before workers from general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son, steel erector CSE Construction and a host of subcontractors used a tower crane to lift a steel beam covered in signatures to the top of the new, $137-million office building. Last week ironworkers gathered atop the tower to pose for a photo.

Scheduled to open in December, Irgens Partners is developing the new building for anchor tenant BMO Harris Bank. But the bank, which will move more than 600 employees to the building, is far from the only tenant planned to move into the building.

The top of the tower will be occupied by law firm Michael Best & Friedrich. Lower floors in the building will be home to Heartland Advisors and Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP.

In an interview, Irgens President and CEO Mark Irgens said that 55 percent of the building is pre-leased. Irgens, with the assistance of Colliers International, is in discussions with prospective tenants for 80,000 square feet of space. The real estate veteran said the plan is to have 90 percent of the space occupied by summer 2021.

Construction on the project is back on track after completion of the parking garage was delayed from December 2018 to March 2019. Irgens said that the firm has been paying for an accelerated schedule to catch up, including 10-hour work days and six-day work weeks. The steel structure, Irgens told the media, was delivered on time.

The development team has been paying for the cost of acceleration out of its contingency budget. How much did that cost? “I don’t want to get into that, but it’s a bunch,” said Irgens. The developer and Findorff are negotiating over the costs.

And while the steel structure has reached its maximum height, a host of other elements are extending to the top as well. “The entire building will be enclosed in mid-August,” said Irgens of the glass curtain wall.

BMO will begin moving employees into the building from the nearby Milwaukee Center in December. Employees from the adjacent BMO office building, originally built by M&I Bank, are expected to move in January.

The bank will soon begin building out its signature first-floor bank branch as well. BMO senior executive for southeast Wisconsin, Jud Snyder, described the new branch as “a big, traditional branch with high tech touches.” He said it will borrow the best of what the bank introduced to the market with its new Sherman Parksmart branch” with traditional banking functions.

But what will the employees get? “The biggest thing they’re excited about is the amount of natural light,” said Snyder. The bank executive said a host of other amenities, including wireless network and voice over IP phones will make it easier for them to join a more flexible workspace.

For more on the project see our coverage from its November 2017 groundbreaking.

Ceremony

Steel Lift

Renderings

Plans

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