BMO Tower Opens
Plus: Former Boston Store Building lands office tenant, MAC deal could lose hotel.
Downtown’s newest office tower opened this week, though it’s going to be some time before hundreds of people will be in the building every day.
Developed by Irgens Partners, BMO Tower’s anchor tenants are BMO Harris Bank and law firm Michael Best & Friedrich. While the bank will occupy twice as much space, the law firm is leasing 59,000 square feet spread over the top two floors of the 25-story building and has begun to relocate its offices while most of its employees work remotely. Signs for the bank don every side of the building, while a sign for the law firm can be spotted on the northeast corner of the 380,000-square-foot building.
Heartland Advisors is also beginning to move in, making the trek from across the street. Andrus Intellectual Property Law has a lease that begins in October. Approximately 160,000 square feet of office space remains available for lease.
The tower was originally scheduled to open in December, but a basement flood delayed the opening and ultimately resulted in Irgens firing J.H. Findorff & Son as the general contractor and hiring Pepper Construction to finish the job. Two construction workers on the job site tested positive for COVID-19, the last of which was on the job site on March 17th. Construction is an essential activity under the “Safer at Home” order.
And while portions of the building are finished, Pepper still has other work to complete around the project.
“Pensive,” a bronze sculpture by Radcliffe Bailey, was purchased by Susan and Mark Irgens and installed outside the building. It depicts civil rights leader W. E .B. Du Bois deep in thought. The Irgens have supported Sculpture Milwaukee since its inception, with the piece having been originally exhibited on Wisconsin Avenue in 2019. Du Bois was a critic of capitalism later in his life and now he sits outside, faced directly at the front door of the most capitalist of institutions, a bank.
North Shore Healthcare Moving Downtown, First Tenant at HUB640
Call it a win for Westown.
North Shore Healthcare will consolidate multiple offices and 55 employees into the HUB640 building at 640 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. The firm signed a 10-year lease for approximately 23,000 square feet on the building’s second floor.
The move will place the healthcare company in a redeveloped space most recently occupied by the downtown Boston Store. Bon-Ton, the department store’s parent company, folded in 2018. North Wells Capital had already planned to redevelop much of the building, shifting Bon-Ton’s corporate offices within the five-story building and shrinking the store’s footprint. But the bankruptcy freed up more space and the Chicago-based real estate firm has been marketing the building to a number of tenants. A new amenity space will also be included on the second floor.
North Shore Healthcare, an owner and operator of skilled nursing facilities, has 43 facilities in Wisconsin, five in Minnesota and one in North Dakota. Its headquarters are currently in Glendale.
Milwaukee Athletic Club Redevelopment Could Lose Hotel
The redevelopment of the Milwaukee Athletic Club building was centered around the creation of a 94-room hotel on the building’s upper floors. But those plans could be dropped as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic reported the Milwaukee Business Journal.
“On the day of closing I had to suspend closing basically indefinitely,” said developer Tony Janowiec during a virtual forum the publication held Thursday. “We are now pretty certain there is really no way to predict the recovery, in particular the hotel market itself.” He was scheduled to close on the redevelopment plans on March 15th. Plans to modernize the private club spaces are still proceeding.
Sage Hospitality was planned to operate the hotel, but the firm’s hotels are currently closed across the country. Janowiec said office space or housing are being considered for the hotel floors.
The general contractor leading the project was fired in July, but work has since restarted. Developer Josh Jeffers is also a partner on the project.
Bronzeville Project Loses Anchor Tenant
A proposed three-story building for 1940-48 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. needs a new anchor tenant.
Dr. Mexton Deacon had planned to relocate his practice, the Milwaukee Advanced Foot and Ankle Clinic, from Wauwatosa to the new building. But Deacon instead bought a building at 1626 W. Fond du Lac Ave. and will relocate there.
First announced in 2018, Deacon was to partner with Que El-Amin‘s firm Scott Crawford Inc. on the deal. The partners were the lone respondent to a 2017 City of Milwaukee request for proposals.
“It has always been the aim of Scott Crawford Inc. to place clients into the best situations and we are happy that we were able to assist Dr. Deacon in finding an existing building that met his practice’s needs,” said El-Amin in an email to Tom Daykin who was the first to report the change in plans. El-Amin said revised plans for the Bronzeville site are forthcoming.
German Industrial Firm Opening Office in Global Water Center
Beckhoff Automation intends to open an office in July at the Global Water Center in Walker’s Point. The 3,600-square-foot office will have eight employees working in sales, technical support or engineering services for the industrial automation implementation firm reported Alex Zank.
“The Milwaukee metropolitan area is home to numerous high-profile manufacturers, machine builders and other high-tech companies that need high-performance automation solutions,” said regional manager Jacob Schieffer in a statement to the BizTimes. “We have experienced especially strong growth with customers based here.”
Convention Center Deal Approved By City
The City of Milwaukee could receive over $40 million in cash payments from the Wisconsin Center District (WCD) as part of a new revenue-sharing agreement. Or it could receive nothing.
The Common Council approved the framework of a two-page payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) proposal Tuesday morning, one of the key pieces of the Wisconsin Center District’s $420 million convention center expansion plan. The plan, which does not involve city funds, calls for expanding the complex to be able to accommodate two major conventions simultaneously and funding the project through debt backed by a combination of sales, rental car and hotel taxes. In exchange for the PILOT, the council certified criteria that would grant the district the state’s backing on $300 million of the debt in the event of a default, reducing borrowing costs by $40 to $50 million.
But not everyone on the council is happy with the process. “It’s not really an agreement. It’s not even a term sheet. It’s really a narrative with some terms laid out,” said Alderman Robert Bauman.
The agreement was negotiated by council president Ashanti Hamilton and Mayor Tom Barrett‘s chief of staff Paul Vornholt with WCD staff. Bauman had opened the door to the deal by leading the council to rescind the initial certification to gain negotiating leverage.
Bucks Player’s Downtown Apartments Rise
While the NBA season is suspended, Milwaukee Bucks guard Pat Connaughton has another job to keep him busy. Beach House, Connaughton’s real estate firm, is leading the development of a three-story apartment building on N. Milwaukee St.
The eastern-most portion of a steel frame for the high-end, three-unit building has been installed. The new building replaces a Civil War-era duplex. A crew from AGM Erecting could be spotted on the site this week working on the new structure.
Connaughton’s firm spent the latter part of 2019 working with the city on approvals for the project at 1245-1247 N. Milwaukee St.
Dubbel Dutch Delineates Design
You can now see what the interior of Dubbel Dutch, the 17-room boutique hotel under development in a downtown mansion, will look like.
The hotel, located in an 1898 double mansion, will have modern interior fixtures integrated with the house’s historic features. “Furniture for the guest rooms is purposefully modern, relying on clean lines and unadorned forms that contrast with the ornate architecture,” said the partners in announcing the design plans. The plans call for everything from walls adorned with art from flea markets and local galleries to custom platform beds and furniture.
The hotel, located at 817-819 N. Marshall St., will have five different room types. Two large suites are planned.
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