Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Apartments Rising Alongside Office Tower at River One

First phases of $100 million complex taking shape in Harbor District.

By - Jul 10th, 2020 09:38 pm
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The River One complex along the Kinnickinnic River. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The River One complex along the Kinnickinnic River. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

There are now two buildings clearly visible at Michels Corp‘s River One development at the northwest corner of S. 1st St. and W. Becher St.

The signature eight-story building, the first of five buildings planned for the site, will be home to Michels’ Milwaukee office. It’s located at the northwest corner of the six-acre site that was once home to Horny Goat Brewing. Much of the glass facade has now been installed.

Michels, which is headquartered in rural Brownsville just outside of Fond du Lac, will anchor the office building with its new civil infrastructure division. Two large staircases that connect the three floors Michels will occupy at the top of the new building are currently visible.

Many of the positions in the 250-employee division will be in engineering or other highly-technical fields. “People that, quite frankly, are easier to recruit in Milwaukee than other places,” said Michels’ Chief Legal Officer David Stegeman in September 2018. Firm vice president Tim Michels said in August 2018 that he hopes the firm will eventually employ 800 people at the site. The company has more than 5,000 employees according to company officials. Michels’ website boasts that the firm has over 12,000 pieces of equipment and 40 locations.

The $49 million first phase is planned to include the office building, 1,052-stall parking garage and riverwalk segment along the Kinnickinnic River, which wraps the west and north side of the project site. Architecture firm RINKA is leading the complex’s design. Gilbane Building Co. is serving as the general contractor.

And now a second phase, two attached apartment buildings, has begun to rise on the east end of the site. Early renderings of the project depict a six-story building along the river, but revised renderings and the portion of the building that is completed show a five-story building with four floors of apartments above a commercial base. A space for a restaurant is included on the river, while a cafe space is planned for the other corner. The southern building has yet to rise beyond its base. Greenfire Management Services is leading the construction of those buildings.

A hotel and an additional office building are also planned. Tim Michels said in September said the company had found an operating partner, but didn’t announce the company’s name.

The river frontage adjacent to the project will also be cleaner by the time the complex is completed. The Harbor District recently secured a federal grant to install a trash collector in the river.

The Common Council approved a $7.1 million tax-incremental financing district for the real estate project’s first phase in December 2018, but none of the funds will go towards the developer in the form of a cash incentive.

The Department of City Development had originally negotiated a $1 million cash grant to Michels in exchange for creating 250 jobs, but with that came the legislatively-triggered mandate that the entire project’s construction be subject to a 40 percent hiring requirement for unemployed or underemployed city residents and that 25 percent of the contracts by dollar value be assigned to city-certified, disadvantaged Small Business Enterprises. Michels preferred to forgo the grant.

The remaining $7.1 million TIF will pay for the city’s share of the new riverwalk segment ($3.4 million), environmental cleanup ($400,000), rebuilding W. Becher St. ($2.5 million) and city administrative and contingency costs ($750,000). Because Michels is only directly receiving funds for the riverwalk, only the riverwalk’s design and construction will be subject to the Residents Preference Program and SBE hiring requirements, defined in the agreement as a “best effort.” As a matter of practice, the city funds 70 percent of all riverwalk costs in exchange for round-the-clock public access.

The company has been involved in a number of Milwaukee-area projects including rebuilding the foundation to Milwaukee City Hall, building new wharf walls at the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District headquarters and constructing the foundation for Fiserv Forum. The firm has also been involved in virtually every major road project in the area.

A list of projects on the firm’s website contains a dizzying list of activities across the country, including light rail line construction in Seattle, pipeline construction in Texas and wind farm construction in Alaska.

2020 Renderings

Office Building

Apartment Building

2018 Renderings

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