Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

South Harbor Campus Rising Over Inner Harbor

The new headquarters of Komatsu Mining is taking shape.

By - Apr 30th, 2021 08:00 pm
South Harbor Campus manufacturing building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

South Harbor Campus manufacturing building. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

It’s becoming hard to miss the construction of Komatsu Mining‘s new headquarters and manufacturing campus in the Harbor District.

The 176,000-square-office building is now covered in glass and the massing of the 430,000-square-foot factory is nearly complete, rendering both visible from many streets in nearby Walker’s Point and while crossing Hoan Bridge. Those leaving Bay View via S. Kinnickinnic Avenue see the factory’s frame as they cross the Kinnickinnic River and pass what will be the complex’s southern entryway.

Located at the eastern end of E. Greenfield Ave., the complex will be known as South Harbor Campus. From it will emerge mining shovels, shipped in pieces, that weigh over three million pounds and can lift 120 tons at a time.

Billed as the largest new urban manufacturing facility in the country, Komatsu will design and ship P&H-branded equipment to customers across the globe from the campus. The office building is expected to open this fall, with the factory following next spring.

The mining company is an arm of the multi-national conglomerate Komatsu. The Tokyo-based company boasts over 59,000 employees in 142 countries, but P&H has always called Milwaukee home. P&H, later known as Harnischfeger, was founded more than 137 years ago in Walker’s Point, less than a mile north of where the new campus is rising.

The company made cranes, and later, mining shovels. P&H, owned by Komatsu since 2016, has spent the past 100 years just outside city limits in suburban West Milwaukee at 4400 W. National Ave. The West Milwaukee facility and office space leased in the Honey Creek Corporate Center on Milwaukee’s west side will be vacated as part of the project.

The company will occupy a 59-acre campus bisected by Union Pacific railroad tracks in the Harbor District. The 13-acre eastern portion of the site was last owned by the city and used to store coal for the Valley Power Plant, which now burns natural gas. The site will house the office building and parking garage.

The western portion of the site was long home to Solvay Coke & Gas. An affiliate of We Energies acquired the 46-acre site in 2017 for $4 million to control the environmental costs of cleaning up the site used by one of its predecessor firms.

Hunzinger Construction is leading the construction of the project. Eppstein Uhen Architects and engineering firm GRAEF are designing the campus.

Komatsu hopes to have more than 1,000 employees at the site, but intends to start with approximately 600 in 2022, of which about 70 percent are expected to be office employees.

The state will provide $59.5 million in tax credits, tied to the creation of new jobs and other performance metrics. The city, leveraging incremental property tax revenue from the project, will invest $15 million in a lengthy new riverwalk segment and award up to $25 million to the company for job creation.

Development of the riverwalk, the largest’s one-time expansion in the system’s history, is now underway.

The state announced in March it is also providing Transportation Economic Assistance grants to fund the construction of a new railroad spur serving the complex ($1 million for a $2.4 million project) and the lowering of the roadway underneath a bridge on S. Kinnickinnic Ave. ($731,000 towards a $1.46 million project). The latter project will improve the clearance on the southern-most bridge known as the “KK Can Opener.” The two low railroad bridges have been known to rip off the tops of trucks driven by inattentive drivers. The project will allow truck drivers to access the campus via the W. Becher St. off-ramp on Interstate 94 without feeding the can opener. A similar project took place on E. Greenfield Avenue in 2019 to serve the northern half of the campus.

In addition to road and rail access, Komatsu will have direct water access. But port officials, as of 2019, expected the company to use existing port facilities across the harbor and truck the items on a circular route. The company is a regular port customer. Its mining shovels are so large they leave the manufacturing facility in pieces and are assembled onsite at mines across the globe.

One of those mining shovels, as well as a truck built by another arm of Komatsu, will be on display in front of the office building. A shovel, one of the company’s older, smaller models, is currently on display at the intersection of W. National Ave. and S. Miller Park Way.

The design submission approved by the city in 2018 envisions the possibility of substantial expansion. A 220,000-square-foot building, used for manufacturing, could be built to the south of the first manufacturing building. The original building used for manufacturing could also be directly expanded to the west with a 110,000-square-foot addition and to the east with a 51,660-square-foot addition.

A 46,200-square-foot addition to the south end of the office building is also envisioned, as well as a 27,600-square-foot penthouse. The parking structure could also be expanded.



Komatsu Products

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