Johnson Controls Closing Downtown Office, Moving 1,300 Employees to Glendale
Move is a blow to resurgent Downtown.
In just over five years Johnson Controls (JCI) has gone from considering building a downtown office tower to vacating the neighborhood.
The company announced it will relocate all of its downtown Milwaukee operations to its suburban Glendale corporate campus. The move includes the relocation of approximately 1,300 employees to the North Shore campus.
The publicly-traded company intends to sell the complex and make the move over a period of two years. Addressed as 507-525 E. Michigan St., the property is assessed for $25.9 million and contains over 420,000 square feet of space.
As recently as 2015, the City of Milwaukee approved a $250,000 grant to study building a new office tower on a three-acre site created from the reconstruction of the Interstate 794 Lake Interchange. The company then reported having 3,000 employees in the Milwaukee area.
But the company has since spun off or sold a number of divisions, merged with Tyco and relocated its headquarters, for tax purposes, to Ireland. It spun off its automotive seat business, now known as Adient, in 2016. It also sold its automotive battery business, now known as Clarios, to Toronto-based Brookfield Business Partners for $13.2 billion.
The company, with a market cap of $37.64 billion, is now focused on building technologies.
The city-to-suburbs move bucks a recent trend of corporate relocations to downtown Milwaukee.
“We recognize we need places and spaces to collaborate, build the diverse culture that makes Johnson Controls unique and drive innovation in building solutions that we use ourselves,” said CEO George Oliver in a statement. “Our Glendale Campus will serve as our most efficient and productive office environment and we will continue our investments in this facility as part of our strong commitment to the Milwaukee metro area. This is an exciting time for our employees.”
The company says it will result in 2,000 employees working from the Glendale campus.
Streetcar stations for an under-construction extension are located on both sides of the office complex. The company, under then-CEO Alex Molinaroli, publicly endorsed building the system in 2015. Molinaroli stepped down in 2017.
In recent years, JCI sold land immediately west of its headquarters for $5.15 million. Those parcels now house three hotels that opened in late 2020.
A parking garage used by employees, 535 N. Milwaukee St., is owned by the City of Milwaukee. The company has owned a number of properties in Milwaukee and other suburban communities over its 137-year history. It no longer has any manufacturing in the Milwaukee area.
JCI, in its current iteration, reports having approximately 105,000 employees on six continents.