Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Strauss Would Bring 250 Jobs to City

Deal with meat supplier to relocate in Century City gets thumbs up from RACM board.

By - Sep 19th, 2019 04:27 pm
Strauss Brands facility rendering. Rendering by ESI Design Services.

Strauss Brands facility rendering. Rendering by ESI Design Services.

A proposal to bring meat supplier Strauss Brands to Century City from Franklin was unanimously approved by the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee (RACM) board Thursday afternoon.

The city would provide up to $4.5 million to the company based on the number of jobs created by the company. It currently employs approximately 250 people at its Franklin campus and should it add another 150 would be able to receive the full funding allotment from the city.

The funds would be provided via a developer-financed tax-incremental financing (TIF) district that effectively serves as a property tax rebate with interest. The city would create a new district to support the development.

Strauss sells premium quality, sustainably and humanely raised meats, including lamb and veal. Its growth has been buoyed in recent years by its grass-fed beef and organic beef product lines as well as other specialty meats.

The company would purchase 20 acres from the city located just north of the former Tower Automotive facility now leased by train equipment manufacturer Talgo. The site, to be sold to Strauss for $1, would be carved out of an approximately 45-acre site at 3025 W. Hopkins St. between Talgo and the Century City I building now owned by Good City Brewing.

The Strauss deal, first announced earlier this month, is the third jobs announcement at Century City in the past year, coming after Talgo increased its employment and Good City moved in.

The 80-acre district, carved out of the former Tower Automotive campus that once employed over 5,000 employees, has been available for move-in since 2014 said Department of City Development (DCD) project manager Benji Timm. The city acquired most of the former Tower site, consisting of a number of large parcels, in 2009.

The company, which is canceling a plan to build a new facility in Franklin, was drawn to Century City site by the ability to leverage Opportunity Zone funds, city support and an available, nearby labor force. “We found that we have a lot of employees already commuting in from this area,” said company Chief Financial Officer Jerry Bussen. The Strauss family sold a majority of the company to a private equity firm earlier this year, but maintains an ownership interest and handles day-to-day management.

Strauss hopes to break ground on the new facility in November and open the facility in spring 2021.

The city estimates the new facility will be assessed at $10.1 million in 2022 when it is fully operational.

The company, which will also relocate its headquarters to the facility, pays its shop employees $13.50 to $17 per hour plus benefits. Bussen, who noted that the company offers a competitive healthcare plan, disability benefits and a 401k match, said the pay range is determined by the level of skill required for the job. The employees are represented by a labor union.

“The impact of this company on Century City cannot be understated,” said DCD Commissioner and RACM Executive Director Rocky Marcoux. “This is the exact type of company we were looking for.”

Factory Design and Odor Control

Strauss intends to build an approximately 210,000 square-foot facility with a 170,000-square-foot footprint. The facility is being designed to process live animals into packaged meat products from west to east. ESI Group is serving as a design-build contractor on the project.

As part of developing the 210,000-square-foot facility, the company envisions a potential 100,000-square-foot expansion to the south and would have a purchase option on an additional five acres of land to the north.

Loading docks would be included on each of the building with live animals entering on the west and packaged products leaving on the east. Bussen estimated 10 to 15 trucks a day would visit the facility. A total of 280 live animals would be housed at the facility at a time, all of which would be indoors and would arrive between 5 a.m. and 11 a.m. each day.

“How do you prevent any nuisances to the neighbors?” asked RACM board member Bill Schwartz.

The company, at least initially, hopes to avoid the use of air scrubbers to control odor. Much of that potential odor would come from what the company calls “the harvest area.”

Don Olson, ESI Group’s vice president of design, said that the harvest process creates the most waste, including offal, blood and hides. A basement below the area would be created to store those by-products as well as manure with trucks able to directly access the storage area.

“Most harvest facilities don’t put a basement in their building. We want to do that because it’s going to help mitigate the odor,” said Bussen. “Our goal is to mitigate 95 percent of the odor.” The CFO said the company would install air scrubbers if that solution does not work.

“A good portion of the facility is actually refrigerated,” which would eliminate odors, said Olson.

The west end, the facility’s cattle barns, would be enclosed and ventilated. Olson said the barns would be washed down daily, in part with recycled water from the rest of the facility.

A large surface parking lot would be included on the north side of the building. Marcoux, in his brief remarks to the board, noted that the site is also near a major transit hub in the region at the intersection of W. Capitol Dr. and N. 27th St.

The city, which has already invested in clearing the site of Tower Automotive’s buildings and bringing in new utilities, would also need to invest in a new street off of W. Hopkins St. to access the site. The city is applying for a state grant from the Transportation Economic Assistance program to fund the work.

Century City

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Strauss Would Bring 250 Jobs to City”

  1. mkwagner says:

    The long term, strategic development strategy of Marcoux and Barrett is reaping benefits for the city of Milwaukee. Cities develop from the center out. With a thriving downtown, adjacent districts become more attractive for developers in ever widening circles around the downtown. This fact is lost on politicians such as Donovan and Zielinski. What is also lost on south-side politicians is the fact that development will move faster on the north-side as a direct result of our racialized zoning regulations. These regulations separated white neighborhoods from noxious industries, leaving the housing surrounding industrial sites to communities of color. It is our own conscious efforts to segregate the “races” that today directs development to those communities of color. The south-side must simply wait its turn.

    Kharma has a way of biting us in the butt.

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