Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

BMO Tower Officially Opens

Ceremony was delayed following water main break and then pandemic.

By - Sep 13th, 2020 02:19 pm
Mark Irgens, Mayor Tom Barrett, BMO US CEO David Casper, Michael Best & Friedrich managing partner David Krutz and BMO senior executive Jud Snyder cut the ribbon at BMO Tower. Photo from BMO Financial Group.

Mark Irgens, Mayor Tom Barrett, BMO US CEO David Casper, Michael Best & Friedrich managing partner David Krutz and BMO senior executive Jud Snyder cut the ribbon at BMO Tower. Photo from BMO Financial Group.

Officials celebrated the ceremonial opening of the 25-story BMO Tower, 790 N. Water St. last week.

The 328-foot tower opened to an extremely limited number of employees in April amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This new tower signals our commitment to the city, to the economic development of the area, and to our own prospects for future growth in Milwaukee, and throughout the state,” said David Casper, US CEO of BMO Financial Group, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. “Milwaukee will always be an extremely important market for BMO, and we’re thrilled to be moving into our beautiful new Wisconsin headquarters.”

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 building. 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.

Approximately 600 BMO employees will be based in the building. The conference rooms and other shared spaces in BMO’s offices are named after Milwaukee neighborhoods.

Jud Snyder, BMO’s senior executive for southeast Wisconsin, said the bank has up to 100 employees in the building currently.

The privately-financed project drew praise from Mayor Tom Barrett, who has been able to watch the construction progress from his office across the street at Milwaukee City Hall.

BMO Tower was designed by Kahler SlaterA groundbreaking was held in November 2017. The project had an estimated budget of $132 million at that point.

The new tower features a number of amenities, including a shared multi-media conference center, common tenant lounge and terrace on the 12th floor. BMO has a private outdoor terrace on the 11th floor and Michael Best has one on the 25th floor. A tenant fitness center is located underground with private showers and locker rooms.

An eight-level parking structure with 653 stalls is included in the building’s base.

The standard floor plate in the building is 25,849 square-feet, with nine-foot, six-inch ceilings. Floor-to-ceiling windows and column-free corners are included on every floor.

“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.

Fiddleheads Coffee will open a cafe on the building’s first floor along N. Water St. later this year. BMO has a new flagship bank space at the corner of N. Water St. and E. Wells St. A commercial space at the corner of E. Wells St. and N. Broadway remains available for lease.

Two other office tenants have been announced. Heartland Advisors has a limited staff in the building already, and 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 2019, 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.

The new tower was developed on the site of a multi-level parking structure originally built by M&I Bank in the 1960s. The bank was acquired by BMO in 2010.

Irgen beat out other firms to develop a new home for the bank by submitting a plan to use the parking structure site for the new building and acquire and redevelop the bank’s adjacent, long-time home the BMO Harris Building.

Now known as 770 North, Irgens is redeveloping the existing building into modern office space. Efforts include replacing the entire window system, deep cleaning the facade and installing a green roof on the building’s rooftop.

The two office towers are connected by a small structure.

A pocket park will be developed by Irgens on a surface parking lot along N. Broadway behind 770 North.

April Photos

A recap of the week’s real estate news…

Flood Delays Opening of Bradley Symphony Center

While construction moves towards completion on the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra‘s Bradley Symphony Center, it still remains unclear when the public will get to see a concert in the $89 million complex.

Even without a global pandemic, the center’s opening would have been delayed.

On May 18, the We Energies steam tunnel system, which delivers steam heat from the Valley Power Plant to a number of downtown buildings, flooded following a rainstorm.

The basement of the Bradley Symphony Center was one of a handful of buildings that took on a substantial amount of water. We Energies’ own Public Service Building also was heavily damaged.

Read the full article

Public Museum Announces New Location Near Fiserv Forum

The Milwaukee Public Museum announced a location for its planned new 230,000-square-foot facility. It is targeting three privately-owned parcels at the northeast corner of N. 6th Street and W. McKinley Avenue currently occupied by one-story warehouse buildings.

The non-profit natural history museum announced two weeks ago it would partner with the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum (BBCM) in developing a shared new facility, but neither party would identify the selected site.

The partners have secured three parcels just off Interstate 43 and north of Fiserv Forum that, when merged, will form a 2.4-acre rectangular site.

Read the full article

$85 Million Bronzeville Project Now “ThriveOn Collaboration”

The proposal to transform the former Schuster’s department store at 2153 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. into a multi-use home for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation (GMF), Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)and over 70 apartments now has a name and a timeline.

The $84.5 million project will be known as the ThriveOn Collaboration, the two organizations announced Thursday afternoon in a virtual press conference alongside project developer Royal Capital Group.

The eastern half of the 400,000-square-foot complex, facing the King Drive commercial corridor, will be used as 131,000 square feet of Class A office space for MCW’s community-facing programs and GMF’s headquarters. A community space is planned for the first floor of the entire complex. Specific uses for that space are still being defined based on community feedback.

Read the full article

High-End Hotel Planned Across From Fiserv Forum

The Milwaukee Bucks ownership group is taking the next step in building a full neighborhood around Fiserv Forum.

Team president Peter Feigin announced Wednesday morning that Madison-based North Central Group (NCG) was selected from multiple developers to build a “luxury, boutique” hotel on the vacant lot at 420 W. Juneau Ave.

Planned to open in 2023, the hotel will carry the Marriot Autograph Collection brand. The team will lease the land to NCG, which will in turn develop, own and operate the property.

Read the full article

A Future Vision for Villard Avenue

A shared vision for Villard Avenue has been developed that includes everything from a new park to a long-vacant movie theater becoming an open-air venue.

The UW-Milwaukee Community Design Solutions (CDS) program has unveiled designs for five sites, created through a design charette process that engages community stakeholders in establishing a shared vision, aimed at revitalizing the commercial corridor. The Villard Avenue Business Improvement District and Department of City Development partnered to fund the effort, which included participation from five architecture firms.

The charette focused on W. Villard Ave. running from N. Teutonia Ave. to N. Sherman Blvd. The street was once the main street of the suburban community of North Milwaukee, before it was annexed by the city in 1929. It now contains a mix of vacant buildings, new development (including Villard Commons and the Villard Square Library) and a handful of commercial tenants. Approximately 17,000 residents live in the surrounding Old North Milwaukee neighborhood.

Read the full article

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