Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Chase Tower Receiving New Amenities

Group RMC, Colliers working to boost occupancy rate at downtown office building.

By - Mar 30th, 2023 03:12 pm
Chase Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Chase Tower. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

One of Milwaukee’s most prominent office buildings is being renovated under a multi-million dollar plan.

The 22-story Chase Tower, 111 E. Wisconsin Ave., will receive a host of new tenant amenities. Upgrades include a fully-renovated lobby, new first-floor fitness center and locker room complex, new tenant lounge with fireplace and a larger conference room.

New York City-based Group RMC acquired the tower and adjacent parking structure, 543 N. Water St., for $34.25 million in 2021.

The improvements are intended to boost the occupancy rate, which currently stands at 60%. The average occupancy rate for Class A downtown buildings, according to the Commercial Association of Realtors Wisconsin, was 78.9% at the end of 2022.

Office tenants in the building include JPMorgan Chase, law firm O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing, Empower Retirement and WUWM. The International-style office tower contains 484,165 square feet of space, according to a leasing brochure. It was built in 1961.

“Beyond the cosmetic and amenity improvements planned for 2023, ownership has made significant improvements to Chase Tower’s infrastructure, including upgraded electrical service, HVAC improvements, select roof replacements, exterior painting along the riverwalk, improved security systems including card access and surveillance, elevator cab finish upgrades, and repairs, new equipment, and new electric vehicle charging stations in the parking structure,” said Margaret Gehring of CBRE, the property manager, in a statement.

A handful of public-facing commercial tenants are located in the building, including Grassroots Salad Company and Dunkin’. But the new amenities will fill in two vacant commercial stalls facing the Milwaukee RiverWalk. Spaces last used by Rightsize Facility furniture showroom and Cafe Dulce will be replaced by new amenities.

Eppstein Uhen Architects is serving as the project architect and JP Cullen is the general contractor. Doug Nysse of Colliers International, the building’s leasing manager, is serving as the lead project manager. CBRE serves as the property manager. Dan Wroblewski, Matt Fahey, and Jenna Maguire of Colliers serve as the leasing agents for the property.

“Group RMC has quickly established itself as a reputable owner and operator of office product within the Milwaukee market and throughout the region,” said Wroblewski. “Chase Tower is an iconic building in Milwaukee’s central business district, and it’s exciting to partner with Group RMC as they realize their vision and investment in the property as it begins another chapter.”

Known as Marine Plaza when it was completed, the building was the first major building in Milwaukee constructed with glass curtain walls. It was designed by Harrison and Abramovitz Architects. A restaurant, Top of the Marine, was once located on the top level of the building. At the time, it was the second tallest building in Milwaukee, but is now 17th and falling. The building’s name has followed that of its anchor tenant, which has remained unchanged despite a long string of mergers: first Marine Plaza (Marine National Exchange Bank), Bank One Plaza (Bank One Corporation) and currently Chase Tower (JPMorgan Chase).

Chase Tower is connected by a skywalk to the ASQ Center and The Avenue across the Milwaukee River. A skywalk also spans E. Michigan St. to the south, connecting the building to its approximately 750-stall parking structure.

The tower encountered an unusual situation on a particularly windy day in April 2022 when a portion of a window broke on an upper floor of the building, closing a block of N. Water St. for several hours.

A large plaza is located on the northern end of the building at the corner of N. Water St. and E. Wisconsin Ave. A station for the planned Connect 1 bus rapid transit line was recently constructed at its northern edge. A Bublr Bikes station is located next to the station. The two-story lobby spent several recent years clad in 160 vinyl panels designed by Chicago-based artist Carlos Rolón that depicted a flowery, tropical environment.

Group RMC owns two other properties in the Milwaukee area. It acquired 12 buildings totaling approximately 500,000 square feet in the suburban Brookfield Lakes business park in 2019 and, in the first half of 2021, entered the downtown market with the purchase of the two-building, 475,000-square-foot 330 Kilbourn complex.



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