Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Another Company Bucks Trend, Expands Downtown Office

HNTB expands downtown office. Plus: A recap of the week's real estate news.

By - May 14th, 2023 03:29 pm
HNTB's office atop the Two Fifty building. Photo from HNTB.

HNTB’s office atop the Two Fifty building. Photo from HNTB.

Engineering firm HNTB is growing its Milwaukee office again.

It’s the company’s second expansion since moving its regional office to the top of Two Fifty office building in 2019. And it’s just the latest company to buck a national trend towards smaller offices because of remote work and is instead expanding its presence Downtown.

“As an organization, HNTB firmly believes that our performance and culture are driven by being together. As we continue to attract and retain top talent in a rewarding and dynamic office environment, this drives our need for additional office space,” said Ashley Booth, HNTB Wisconsin office leader and vice president, in a statement. “Our expanded presence in Milwaukee’s vibrant downtown area continues to allow us to effectively serve our clients, while providing an environment in which our professionals continue to thrive.”

The company now leases all of the 19th and 20th floors, a total of 30,694 square feet, in the Two Fifty building at 250 E. Wisconsin Ave. It moved downtown from the Park Place business park with 90 employees, added space on the 19th floor in 2021 when it had 110 employees and now reports 125 employees work in the office. The company estimates it could accommodate an additional 20 employees in the current office space.

The employee-owned firm, headquartered in Kansas City, has offices and customers across the globe. In Milwaukee, some of its biggest clients include the city, Wisconsin Department of TransportationMilwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and Milwaukee County.

Milwaukee isn’t the only place the company is growing in Wisconsin. It also leased space earlier this year in Ashwaubenon, a suburb of Green Bay. It reports 180 total employees in Wisconsin.

HNTB employees only need to look out the window to see their work. The Hop, for which the company provided engineering services, has a station just outside the building. The Connect bus rapid transit line will run down Wisconsin Avenue starting next month. The firm does a considerable amount of consulting on highway projects, served as a consultant on the construction of Fiserv Forum and is involved in the Vel R. Phillips Plaza project.

The 20-story office building, located at the intersection of N. Broadway and E. Wisconsin Ave., had a 20% occupancy rate before being acquired by Chicago-based real estate firms Fulcrum Asset Advisors and Millbrook Properties in 2015 for $9.75 million. The firms invested $8.8 million in overhauling the building.

Built in 1973, the tower has 193,031 square feet of space according to city assessment records. An attached parking structure includes approximately 440 stalls.

An Associated Bank branch is located on the building’s first floor. In 2018, the bank installed a massive sign that wraps around the exterior of the building. In October, the federal Bureau of Land Management signed a 15-year lease for 8,797 square feet of space on the building’s 11th floor.

Several other companies are expanding their downtown office presence or moving into the area. Milwaukee Tool is putting the finishing touches on its first downtown office, Fiserv will relocate its global headquarters to Westown and Northwestern Mutual is overhauling one of its office towers and closing its suburban Franklin campus.

Weekly Recap

Midtown Center Sold To Atlanta Investor

An Atlanta investment group is the new owner of most of Milwaukee’s Midtown Center shopping complex.

Laureate Capital paid $22.1 million for 26.2 acres of land and 241,283 square feet of space, much of which is currently leased. A Pick ‘n Save grocery store and Planet Fitness gym are the anchor tenants in the shopping center.

Bordered by W. Capitol Drive, W. Fond du Lac Avenue and N. 60th Street, the shopping center was listed for sale in January by New York-based DLC Management with brokerage firm Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) and online auction service Ten-X.

DLC paid $47.2 million for the center in 2014, but has since sold off the shuttered Lowe’s and Walmart stores in separate transactions. The shopping center is a redevelopment of the former Capitol Court mall. Originally constructed as an outdoor shopping center in the 1950s, it was enclosed in the 1970s and then largely demolished at the turn of the century. In 2002, the latest iteration opened as an open-air shopping center.

Read the full article

Marquette’s New ‘Mansions’

Three new houses are rising atop a long-vacant lot at N. 17th St. and W. State St.

Three B Company is developing what it calls the MU Mansions on a 10,932-square-lot, 1703-1719 W. State St., just north of the Marquette University campus.

The “mansions” offer six units of housing. According to a leasing website, each unit will have three bedrooms and two bathrooms and a layout geared towards college roommates, not families. The bathrooms are immediately next to one another and the bedrooms, all similarly sized, are in a row on the other side of the hallway.

Only one unit, available for $2,250, is said to be still available. The units are expected to be move-in ready starting June 1.

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Baird Center Reaches Highest Point

Milwaukee’s biggest construction project reached a key milestone Wednesday.

A crew of ironworkers hoisted a steel beam to the top of the $456 million expansion of the Wisconsin Center as part of a “topping off” ceremony watched by dozens of onlookers from across W. Kilbourn Ave.

“This day represents a significant turning point. In the weeks ahead, the construction team will begin to enclose the building and really focus on the interior,” said Wisconsin Center District CEO Marty Brooks. “We’ve had 5,850 tons of steel delivered, 575,000 hours worked and 40,514 cubic yards of concrete poured.”

When completed, the convention center will be renamed the Baird Center, after the Milwaukee-based investment advisory firm.

Read the full article

Spanish Company Will Make EV Chargers In Milwaukee

The successful 2010 recruitment of Spanish energy industry manufacturer Integeam to Milwaukee has delivered a second win for the city.

The company confirmed Friday that it will use its Menomonee Valley plant to make electric vehicle (EV) chargers. The facility was originally built for the assembly of wind turbine generators.

It expects to hire up to 100 additional workers in the next five years to add two product lines to the facility, its North American headquarters. Ingeteam will assemble a fast-charging direct current charger as well as a slower, level two charger. It expects to produce 13,000 chargers per year at the plant.

“Ingeteam will be starting the production of our state-of-the-art, Red Dot award-winning DC Fast Charger RAPID 180 kW, fully compliant with the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program (NEVI) by the second half of 2023. We will bring the technology from our R&D centers and manufacturing facilities in Spain, and the experience of more than 35,000 EV charger connectors already deployed globally,” said Jesus Rodriguez, Executive Vice President of Ingeteam EV Chargers USA, in a statement.

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See The Future of Bay View

A new land use plan for Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood includes development plans for three largely-vacant sites while also establishing policy goals related to economic development, transportation, parks and sustainability.

The plan includes conceptual design concepts for the redevelopment of the BMO Harris Bank site on the 2700 block of S. Kinnickinnic Ave., the UMOS-anchored former shopping center on S. Chase Ave. and the Army Reserve site at the eastern end of E. Lincoln Ave.

In 2020, newly-elected Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic called for the Department of City Development (DCD) to update the Southeast Side Area Plan that was last completed in 2008 as part of a strategy of going from “reactionary” to “visionary.” She said a new plan was necessary given the increasing development pressure and the need to improve pedestrian and bicycle safety. The process publicly kicked off in 2021, with the fourth and final public meeting on May 1. The full Common Council must still adopt the draft plan.

The BMO site became a hot-button issue in 2018 when F Street Group proposed a two-building apartment complex that would have included redeveloping the suburban-style bank property, a vacant commercial building last used by Bella’s Fat Cat restaurant, and nine adjacent properties. Contentious community meetings were held, but the proposal never advanced to a formal public hearing.

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New Emergency Housing For Those With Lead Poisoning

Community Advocates is working to expand its emergency housing portfolio for families displaced by lead poisoning.

The nonprofit organization is buying two more houses from the City of Milwaukee for use as temporary housing for families that must leave their homes after a child tests positive for significantly elevated levels of blood-lead poisoning.

The new homes would join two others that the 501(c)(3) organization purchased from the city in 2020. In each case, the city is providing a forgivable loan from its emergency housing fund to support rehabilitating the buildings.

Community Advocates chief operating officer Maudwella Kirkendoll told the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee on Tuesday that the organization has seen success with those first properties.

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