Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Northwestern Mutual Names Tower Team

And wins approval for street closure. Second glassy tower to be built by team that helped create signature 2017 tower.

By - Jul 11th, 2023 05:43 pm
Northwestern Mutual announced plans to invest more than $500 million in its North Office Building in downtown Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual announced plans to invest more than $500 million in its North Office Building in downtown Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Northwestern Mutual

Northwestern Mutual is getting the band back together. The insurance company announced the development team for the $500 million overhaul of its aging, 18-story North Office Building.

Mirroring the fact that the building is being overhauled to resemble the glassy, 32-story tower to its south, the company has hired many of the same contracting partners to lead the north building’s redevelopment. A partnership of Gilbane Building Co. and CG Schmidt will lead the general contracting and construction management on the project, as it did for the 2017 tower. Connecticut-based Pickard Chilton, previously announced as the building’s designer, will be joined by Houston-based Kendall/Heaton Associates.

“It’s a privilege to collaborate with Northwestern Mutual once more in re-envisioning their downtown campus and fostering a thriving employee environment,” said Rick Schmidt, CEO and chairman of CG Schmidt, in a press release. “We cherish the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on our city’s skyline and contribute to its continued evolution.”

“Collaborating with Northwestern Mutual again was an opportunity we couldn’t resist,” said Jon Pickard, principal at Pickard Chilton. “We value the joint efforts with their leadership and project team, embarking on initiatives that drive economic benefits for the city, revitalize the neighborhood, and cultivate prospects for the people of Milwaukee.”

Houston-based Hines will reprise its role as the project development manager. Representatives of the company, which worked on the 2017 tower and NM’s 7Seventy7 apartment tower, previously said it was the insurance company work that exposed the company to the Milwaukee market and gave it the confidence to proceed with its own tower. The company is currently constructing a 31-story luxury apartment tower at 333 N. Water St. in the Historic Third Ward.

Eppstein Uhen Architects will provide interior design services. Cross Management Services will work on compliance with city hiring and contracting requirements.

“We’ve assembled a team that strikes a wonderful balance of world-renowned talent and local expertise for the modernization of our North Office Building,” said vice president Rebecca Villegas, who oversees the project for the insurance company. “Most of this team had the opportunity to work together to transform Milwaukee’s skyline through our Tower and Commons project, and we are excited to once again draw on their experience and expertise to double down on our commitment to Northwestern Mutual employees and to Milwaukee.”

A $30 million tax incremental financing agreement effectively serves as a property tax rebate to advance the development. It includes a complicated series of hiring requirements. The insurance company will expand its Downtown campus and shutter its suburban Franklin campus as part of the agreement.

Because the project is receiving more than $1 million in city financing assistance, NM is required to have 40% or more of the project’s work hours completed by unemployed or underemployed city residents certified through the Residents Preference Program. It must also contract with certified Small Business Enterprises for 25% of the project’s construction and supply costs and 18% of the professional services costs. Northwestern Mutual’s 2017 project was highly lauded for two subcontractors leasing space in Century City to fabricate and assemble the glass curtain wall facade.

Street Closure Approved

While much of Tuesday’s Common Council meeting was spent debating a 2% sales tax, Northwestern Mutual quietly received approval to close one block of N. Cass Street to create an indoor connection between the North Office Building and its parking structure. A plaza will also be constructed along E. Mason Street.

Alderman Jonathan Brostoff was the lone council member to vote against the proposal, which received no discussion at the meeting. A Public Works Committee meeting two weeks ago included substantial debate of the proposal, including the objections of the city’s Pedestrian and Bicycle Advisory Committee.

Project Renderings


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