Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

River One Rocked by Explosion

Parking garage at core of $100 million development shows visible damage.

By - Dec 18th, 2020 03:09 pm
Visible damage to the parking garage at Michels Corp's River One development. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Visible damage to the parking garage at Michels Corp’s River One development. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

One of Milwaukee’s highest-profile construction projects was damaged by an explosion last weekend. The blast awoke nearby residents when it occurred early Sunday morning at the River One project at S. 1st Street and W. Becher Street, according to the Milwaukee Fire Department.

The multi-level structure covers the nearly six-acre site, with a five-story apartment building and an eight-story office building rising above.

Michels Corp., the infrastructure contractor developing the site, is declining to discuss the incident’s impact on the $100 million project.

“I have nothing to tell you,” said company chief legal officer and senior vice president David Stegeman when reached by phone Friday. He declined follow-up questions.

Photos taken Wednesday show previously covered concrete columns along the Kinnickinnic River with newly exposed rebar and visible damage.

When we last covered the project in July, the columns were covered with bricks. Masonry enclosed the spaces between. Now, much of the brickwork and masonry is gone.

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.

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 are visible through a bump-out in the glass facade. They connect the three floors at the top of the new building that Michels will occupy.

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 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.

A second phase of development, building two attached apartment buildings, is progressing on the east end of the site. Four floors of apartments rise above a floor filled with commercial space and the parking structure. A space for a restaurant is included on the river, while a cafe space is planned for the other corner.

Greenfire Management Services is leading the construction of those buildings, while RINKA leads the design.

A hotel and an additional office building are also planned. Tim Michels said in September 2019 that the company found an operating partner, but didn’t announce the company’s name.

Construction on River One began in 2019. It’s now one of many projects in the area.

Bear Development is planning to redevelop the Filer & Stowell complex to the southeast. Across the river, Wangard Partners is clearing the Commercial Heat Treating site for a future development.

A mile northeast of River One, Michels is developing a home for its newly-launched marine division on another riverfront site.


Apartment & Parking Structure

Office Building

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us