MSOE’s New Building Will Be ‘Kendall Breunig Center’
Real estate developer donated building, and $2 million, to university.
The Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE) will honor alumnus and regent Kendall Breunig by naming the new home for its Civil and Architectural Engineering and Construction Management (CAECM) program after him.
The Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment will be located in the redeveloped three-story office building at 310 E. Knapp St. Completed in 2001, the 59,249-square-foot building has long been leased to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and its U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. MSOE acquired the building a little more than a month ago.
Breunig, who leads Sunset Investors, sold the building to the university for $1.09 million, more than $8 million less than its assessed value, and is donating an additional $2 million to the university for its $14 million redevelopment. Students are expected to begin using the building in the fall of 2024.
“Kendall Breunig has transformed commercial development in the Milwaukee area and across Southeastern Wisconsin, building on the skills he honed at MSOE. We are thankful that he is helping MSOE continue its campus improvements,” said MSOE President John Y. Walz in a statement Friday morning announcing the name. “With the Kendall Breunig Center for the Built Environment, MSOE will continue its tradition of educating the next generation of construction leaders who will design and build the future landscape of our city and beyond.”
Breunig, a real estate developer and investor, graduated from MSOE with a bachelor’s degree in architectural and building construction engineering technology from MSOE in 1979. He was given an honorary doctor of engineering degree in 2017 and added to the university’s “Alumni Wall of Distinction” in 2021. He also holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from Marquette University. He serves on MSOE’s Board of Regents.
“MSOE provided the base for my career in design and construction management, but also specifically my real estate development work,” said Breunig. “I owe my current success to my degree from MSOE, so I am honored to support the university and help other MSOE grads to start successful careers.” Breunig has developed several properties in the Milwaukee area, including apartments in the Plankinton Building above The Avenue. He’s also pursuing the redevelopment of a former dairy on E. North Ave. into apartments.
The interior of the new academic building will contain seven laboratories and six classrooms. An outdoor plaza will be added to the Breunig Center property.
The CAECM programs are currently based in the partially-exposed lower level of the university’s campus center, 1025 N. Broadway. Despite the cellar-dwelling location, Walz told a committee last month that the CAECM programs boast a 100% placement rate. It’s the third-largest program at MSOE, which reports 2,571 undergraduate students.
MSOE has agreed to a voluntary payment in lieu of taxes agreement for the property with the city. The agreement calls for the university to pay the city $100,000 annually, with a 2.5% annual escalator. The term of the agreement is for 10 years and can be mutually extended for additional five-year terms. MSOE could reduce its payments by making public improvements, primarily traffic calming investments, in the area around its downtown campus. Breunig, before selling the building to the university, was to pay $234,528.43 in property taxes for the building this year based on a $9.3 million assessment. In 2021, Sunset Investors acquired the property for $.75 million.
The university announced it is pursuing additional donations to support the remainder of the building’s redevelopment. Ramlow/Stein Architecture + Interiors is leading the design.
In March, Walz said that more than $100 million in campus development projects were completed in the past six years or are underway. MSOE announced plans in February to convert a recently-acquired duplex, located one block to the south, into a home for the university’s growing music program. Last year, it started constructing a softball stadium at 408 E. State St. and expanded locker rooms at the Kern Center. It’s also completed Viets Tower, a residence hall, and Diercks Hall, a computer science building. A plaza, completed last year, links the two facilities and encourages connectivity with the expanded campus and visitor center.
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