Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Rite-Hite Expands Planned Headquarters

Warehouse equipment specialist will relocate from Brown Deer to Milwaukee.

By - Dec 7th, 2020 05:00 pm
Rite-Hite's planned corporate headquarters in the Reed Street Yards. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Rite-Hite’s planned corporate headquarters in the Reed Street Yards. Rendering by Eppstein Uhen Architects.

Rite-Hite is expanding its Reed Street Yards headquarters on paper, just before it starts constructing the actual buildings.

The company announced earlier this year it would relocate to Walker’s Point from Brown Deer. It planned to occupy two office buildings totaling 240,586 square feet on a 9.4-acre campus starting in 2022.

Now it’s seeking a zoning change to expand the buildings by more than 10 percent. Its headquarters building along the waterfront would grow to 158,308 square feet. Its research and development building, to be located across W. Freshwater Way, would grow by just over 5,000 square feet to 108,552 square feet.

The expansions had been contemplated in the original design filing. “They’re planning now to construct that at the same time, which is great news,” said Department of City Development planner Kristin Connelly to members of the City Plan Commission on Monday afternoon.

Rite-Hite designs and manufactures loading dock equipment, industrial doors, safety barriers, industrial fans and other products for warehouse operators. It wouldn’t do any manufacturing at the new campus, but plans to house approximately 300 employees involved in research, design, administration, sales and management.

“This is really great news, Rite-Hite has decided to go ahead with the addition on day one,” said architect Greg Uhen, CEO of Eppstein Uhen Architects.

The glass-clad office building would present a convex shape towards the Menomonee Canal to maximize river and skyline views, but the revised plan would make it a floor shorter. “Technically we are going from 85 feet to 68 feet in height,” said Uhen.

The decision can be attributed to what Uhen said was the impetus for advancing the expansion: a lack of first-floor space. Uhen said in laying out the first-floor programming, which includes spaces for employees and clients, everything didn’t fit.

Two other changes were submitted. The first floor of the waterfront building would gain granite exterior columns, replacing what was originally planned to be brick.

The two-story R&D building would gain a walled outdoor storage area at its rear as part of the plan. It would be used to store dumpsters and other equipment.

A parking structure with four levels and 450 stalls would be built immediately west of the building. Its size would not change as part of the revised zoning application.

The original application included 110,000 square feet of additional space, and the new submission still maintains future expansions could occur.

The City Plan Commission unanimously endorsed the change. “That’s a spectacular, handsome building there,” said chair Stephanie Bloomingdale.

The 15-acre Reed Street Yards has only attracted a single office tenant to date. Zurn, a subsidiary of Rexnord, relocated from Pennsylvania to a three-story office building in the business park. The Yards apartment building was recently completed on the district’s eastern edge along S. 2nd St. General Capital Group owns most of the property.

Rite-Hite acquired its parcels from General Capital for $12 million.

In late 2019 the Common Council approved a $4 million amendment to the tax incremental financing district used to create the business park to fund the relocation of two Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) sewers. The sewers cross the Reed Street Yards business park, but don’t directly serve the 15-acre site formed from a former rail yard and trucking facility.

Rite-Hite’s proposed location is in a design overlay district that does not require Common Council approval, but does require an okay by the City Plan Commission.

The 55-year-old company has over 2,300 employees across the globe.

Original Renderings

Revised Renderings

Site Photos

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