Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Old National Finds Downtown Home

Plus: a busy week of downtown leasing news and recapping all the week's real estate stories.

By - Apr 3rd, 2022 01:45 pm
Huron Building. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Huron Building, with Joshua Jeffers bottom left. Photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Downtown’s newest office building has secured its second major office tenant.

Old National Bank is leasing 20,500 square feet of office space in the Huron Building and opening a 2,500-square-foot bank branch on the first floor.

The bank completed a merger last month with First Midwest Bank, with the combined institution having 250 branches across Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Kentucky. The combined bank is maintaining dual headquarters in Evansville, IN and Chicago, but the Wisconsin leadership team and subsidiary Northern Oak Wealth Management will occupy the eighth floor of the Huron Building.

The firm joins anchor tenant and law firm Husch Blackwell in the building, 511 N. Broadway. The building opened in fall 2020, with the law firm occupying 76,811 square feet on floors nine through 11.

“Old National Bank is a perfect addition to the building, and we welcome the company and its team,” said Joshua Jeffers, President and CEO of Huron developer J. Jeffers & Co., in a statement. ”The bank is growing and expanding its presence in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and we are proud they will call the Huron home.”

Old National is leasing the remainder of what is the Huron’s amenity floor. It also includes a 3,000-square-foot outdoor deck, 2,000-square-foot fitness center and an indoor lounge.

“We are excited about this new space to inspire collaboration with our combined teams and better serve our clients. The added benefit of a first-floor retail branch makes the hub location complete,” said Kevin Anderson, Milwaukee Market & Business Banking President for Old National. “As a hub for the Wisconsin banking team as well our Northern Oak advisors, the Huron is perfect. Its location provides visibility, flexibility and amenities that enable us to host clients, and it has a vibrant and collaborative space for partners to come together as one team. Access and convenience with The Hop line and on-site parking were important factors in site selection as well.”

CG Schmidt is building out both Old National spaces, with occupancy planned for early 2023.

The building is now 65% leased, with two floors of office space remaining below Old National’s new space. The retail space on the first floor is now 100% leased, with the bank joining restaurant Tupelo Honey.

Parking is included on floors one through five, with 240 total spaces time shared between office tenants, residents of Jeffers’ adjacent Mackie Building, attendees of Grain Exchange events and guests at the Homewood Suites hotel.

Office leasing on the building is led by Founders 3, retail leasing by Newmark Knight Frank.

For more on the building, see our October 2020 coverage. For details on Husch Blackwell’s space, see our November 2020 profile.

Generation Growth Rents Top Floor of 28-Story Tower

Private equity firm Generation Growth Capital is relocating to the top floor of the Associated Bank River Center, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave.

Led the Cory Nettles, the firm is leasing the penthouse-style, 3,200-square-foot floor. It will have six employees working there, with enough space for summer interns.

“I really was attracted to the amenities, the finishes, the diversity of the tenants,” Nettles told reporter Sean Ryan. “The location in the arts and cultural district also was really compelling.”

The firm will relocate from the 411 East Wisconsin Center, where Nettles’ former employer Quarles & Brady is located.

Generation Growth’s new home is owned by Associated Bank, for which Nettles has served on the board of directors since 2013. The bank’s tower, formerly known as the Milwaukee Center, is 75% leased, a figure depressed by Associated holding space for future expansion in the building. Associated, according to Ryan’s report, expects to complete the relocation of its operatation from the 330 Kilbourn complex in May.

Nettles’ private equity firm is a “lower-middle market buy-out fund.” Its most recent investment was in Michigan-based Killer Instinct Crossbows.

For more on Associated’s plans to redevelop the tower, see our February 2021 coverage.

Real Estate Firm Moves to Westown

Transwestern is moving its Milwaukee office and six employees to the 310W building, 310 W. Wisconsin Ave.

“Probably the biggest factor in us choosing that was when we sat back and looked at it, it was overwhelmingly obvious to us that the most activity over the past couple of years has been in that area,” said executive vice president Shaun Dempsey last week to Ryan.

That activity includes the 310W building itself. Time Equities acquired the 14-story, 578,000-square-foot building in 2017 and set out on a substantial renovation effort that was first revealed in 2019. Transwestern led the initial office leasing push.

The firm has been operating from the Spaces coworking office in the 1433 Water building after its sublease in the 100 East tower ended. Both buildings are on the east side of Downtown.

Potawatomi Demolishing Digester

An unusual Menomonee Valley structure will soon be no more. The Potawatomi Tribe built a $20 million biodigester just west of its Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in 2013, but the casino and hotel’s 2020 temporary closure ultimately doomed the effort.

The drop in casino revenue forced the tribe to evaluate all of its projects, and the biodigester, effectively a small power plant, also lost its source of fuel.

According to a report from Tom Daykin, the biodigester produced two megawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 1,500 homes, which was sold to We Energies. But it relied on food waste from the adjacent casino, the flow of which stopped with the casino’s shutdown and then reduced operations.

The digester sits on a three-acre site at 2011 W. Potawatomi Cr.

And while the tribe is shuttering its project, a number of other digesters now exist in the state. The Public Service Commission reports there are 318 methane digesters in Wisconsin. Digesters rely on microbes to produce gas from the breakdown of organic material.

“While Potawatomi is discontinuing one aspect of its renewable energy portfolio, the Tribe remains committed to continue being a leader in the use of renewables,” it noted in a statement. No future plans for the site were released.

The MRD Group applied for a raze permit Feb. 28 on behalf of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. The estimated cost listed is $100,000.

Druml Buys Hunger Task Force Building

After relocating to the Village of West Milwaukee, the Hunger Task Force sold its 26,000-square-foot former headquarters at 201 S. Hawley Ct. for $1.1 million according to state real estate transfer records.

The facility was long used by HTF for warehouse space, cold storage and offices, but the food-focused nonprofit consolidated its operations from it and another facility into a new home in West Milwaukee starting in phases last year.

Led by Sherrie Tussler, HTF provides food to a network of food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.

The 1.54-acre property is now owned by an affiliate of The Druml Company. Highly visible from Interstate 94, the property is located next to the Hawley Rd. ramps.

The building on the site was built in 1970 according to city assessment records. HTF paid $1.3 million for the property in 1998 according to city records.

Weekly Recap

Inside Milwaukee’s Biggest Construction Project

Construction work is progressing steadily on the $420 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center.

Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson was given an up-close look at the progress Friday afternoon as he toured the site with Wisconsin Center District CEO Marty Brooks and construction workers from general contractors CD Smith and Gilbane Building Co.

“You guys are changing Milwaukee. You are changing the way Milwaukee looks, the way Milwaukee will be experienced for years to come,” said Johnson in brief remarks before donning a hard hat.

The acting mayor said he believed the expanded convention center would help the city land the 2024 Republican National Convention. The project is expected to be completed in early 2024, just a few months before the convention would take place.

Read the full article

Former Public House Tavern Available For Lease

The building that once housed the Riverwest Public House is no longer for sale.

The first-floor commercial space portion of the mixed-use building at 815 E. Locust St. became vacant in 2021 after the cooperatively run Public House shut down. In late 2021, the building went on the market for sale.

Jeffrey Koenig, whose firm Vandelay Group LLC owns the building, told Urban Milwaukee, “The building is not worth what the realtors who pitched selling it for me thought it was.”

It was originally listed for $549,000. The most recent assessment by the city valued the building at $261,000. “It’s not worth the crazy high price,” Koenig said. “It’s probably worth what the city thinks it’s worth, which is not terribly much, because it’s a difficult space to rent.”

Read the full article

Northridge Mall Raze Order Delayed

The City of Milwaukee’s push to demolish the long-vacant Northridge Mall complex remains stuck in the court system. It’s slated to head back to Milwaukee County Circuit Court, but could eventually end up with the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In April 2019, city officials gathered outside the mall to announce a plan to issue a raze order on the property, a potential precursor to acquiring the property. The mall has been closed since 2003.

But the mall’s owner, the China-based U.S. Black Spruce Enterprise Group, challenged the condemnation decision in court.

Circuit Court Judge William Pocan ruled in the city’s favor in a 2020 trial, but Black Spruce appealed the ruling.

Read the full article

City Plans Healing Spaces Initiative

New neighborhood improvement projects are being developed by the city of Milwaukee, as part of its Healing Spaces Initiative. The initiative aims to foster relaxing, natural environments on city-owned vacant lots. Doing so, the city hopes, will improve public safety and create new healthy gathering spaces in Milwaukee neighborhoods.

Coordinated through the city’s Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation, the initiative draws on ideas submitted by local residents. The initiative launched in January 2021 as a response to the effects of quarantine and social distancing in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among the amenities it seeks to promote are more pathways, benches, perennial herb and flower gardens, shade sails, solar lights, meditation sign posts, little free libraries, and other localized additions, according to a city website.

Read the full article

Huge Foxconn Campus Remains A Puzzle

Hoping to  build a political legacy, President Donald Trump mused in 2018 that the expansive Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park in Mount Pleasant would be the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”

Area one of the project — while still a substantive investment for the area — is slightly more than one-third of the projected valuation of the property for what Foxconn initially proposed in 2017.

The multinational corporation remains the only corporation that has built on the site. There are also two spec buildings and a warehouse. Now, rather than watching the growth of a bustling, high-tech manufacturing hub, the Village of Mount Pleasant finds itself actively marketing an industrial park, hoping to lure larger manufacturers.

Foxconn is still on the hook to make up the difference between the taxes it would have paid under the company’s original plan and what it would pay on its current footprint, according to Claude Lois, Mount Pleasant’s project director for the Foxconn site’s special tax-financed district.

Read the full article

Pabst Theater Group Adds Fifth Venue

A unique partnership has the Pabst Theater Group (PTG) taking over booking and operations of the 4,087-seat Miller High Life Theatre for at least five years.

The for-profit PTG is adding the venue, 500 W. Kilbourn Ave., to its current roster of four venues: the Pabst Theater, Riverside Theater, Turner Hall Ballroom and Back Room @ Colectivo.

The Miller High Life Theatre, long known as the Milwaukee Theatre, is owned by the Wisconsin Center District (WCD).

“The purpose of this agreement is to align with an entity that delivers best-in-class guest experiences and promoter partnerships; showcases a dedication to the city of Milwaukee; and increases the activity of the Miller High Life Theatre without compromising the Wisconsin Center District’s ability to maximize the space for our core meetings and conventions business,” said WCD president and CEO Marty Brooks in a statement announcing the agreement.

Read the full article

State’s Rising Home Prices a Concern

Home prices continue to rise in Wisconsin, and there are concerns that affordability might slip further this year.

Demand for homes has stayed high, while the number of homes for sale has continued to fall.

That pushed the median home price up 9.3 percent in February, according to the latest report from the Wisconsin Realtors Association, or WRA.

“On the one hand, it’s not a lot different from what we’ve already seen,” said economist David Clark of Marquette University, who releases the monthly reports in conjunction with the WRA. “The tightening of inventory has been an issue for us throughout the last year. The challenge that we face going forward is mortgage rates are likely to continue to rise,” as the Federal Reserve tries to slow inflation.

Read the full article

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