Jeramey Jannene
Plats and Parcels

Water Company Moving To Downtown

Plus: Marcus closes its only Milwaukee theater, WHEDA offers new downpayment program and a recap of week's real estate news.

By - Sep 17th, 2023 03:33 pm
648 N. Plankinton Ave. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

ASQ Center at 648 N. Plankinton Ave. Photo by Brian Jacobson.

Despite national doom and gloom about the future of urban downtowns, Milwaukee’s continues to be a draw. Veolia North America is relocating its Milwaukee office to the ASQ Center, 101 W. Wisconsin Ave.

“This office will be convenient to our partners and employees alike, and demonstrates our commitment to being part of Milwaukee’s resurgence,” said the company in a statement. “Our growing team appreciates ASQ North Tower’s plentiful onsite amenity package as well as its historic architecture. We are confident this location will provide unrivaled opportunities to attract and retain talent by tapping into a robust workforce centered in Milwaukee, and to establish Veolia as an employer of choice as we grow our business in the region.”

The company’s office is currently located in a suburban-style office complex on the city’s west side, the Honey Creek Corporate Center.

It is leasing approximately 30,000 square feet of space for approximately 150 employees on the third floor of the nine-story riverfront complex.

Veolia is a French company that operates in the United States as Veolia North America with a Boston headquarters. The company specializes in the operation of wastewater and water treatment centers as well as waste and energy services. Its most visible Milwaukee client is the contracted operation of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District‘s Jones Island water treatment plant.

The ASQ Center was built in phases by Gimbel’s department store, but is now home to approximately 250,000 square feet of office space, a Courtyard Square Marriott hotel and a Planet Fitness gym. The anchor tenant is the American Society for Quality, a Milwaukee-based organization that provides quality control training and certification. A partnership of R2 Companies and Hempel Cos. acquired much of the complex in 2018. ASQ continues to own its space.

The downtown area has attracted several companies in recent years, with the companies  universally saying it was part of a strategy to attract and retain workers. Northwestern Mutual is overhauling one of its office towers as part of a move to close its Franklin campus and bring workers Downtown, Fiserv is moving its headquarters to HUB640 from Brookfield, Twin Disc relocated its corporate suite from Racine to the Historic Third WardChurch Mutual Insurance Company established a lakefront office at 833 East while formally keeping its headquarters in Merrill in northern Wisconsin and last week Regal Rexnord announced it was changing its headquarters address from Beloit to 105-111 W. Michigan St., the building located just south of the ASQ Center.

The suburban office complexes on the city fringe are also drawing interest, but primarily from companies located in smaller cities. Regal Ware moved its headquarters from Kewaskum to the Park Place business park, Michels Corp. built an entire mixed-use development and created a new division in the Harbor District while keeping its headquarters in Brownsville and Mayville Engineering Corporation is moving to the Honey Creek Corporate Center.

Marcus Corp. Shutters S. 27th Street Theater

Southgate Cinema is no more, resulting in Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. having no theaters in the city of Milwaukee.

Marcus Theaters, the company’s movie theater arm, is closing the budget cinema as well as its Showtime Cinema in Franklin and Saukville Cinema in Ozaukee County. The organization said patrons are better served by the “more expansive amenities” at its other theaters, including the Marcus South Shore Cinema in Oak Creek and Macrus BistroPlex Southridge in Greendale.

Southgate is the oldest suburban shopping mall in Milwaukee and there has been a Southgate movie theater since 1964, but the huge single screen theater was razed in 1992 and a 10-screen multiplex, the Southgate 10, opened in in 1993. It was previously known as Movies 10, and billed as “the newest and most modern theatre complex in the Milwaukee area.” Amenities included cupholders in every seat, pushback rocking chair seats, THX stereo surround sound, “wide, wall-to-wall screens,” computerized ticketing and two large concession stands.

The theater property, 3300 S. 30th St., is listed for sale with Newmark. The 30,036-square-foot building sits on a 5.7-acre lot immediately north of a Wal-Mart store. It was first listed in March.

WHEDA Launches Down Payment Assistance Program

The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority, a state agency, is offering a new homebuyer assistance program targeted at first-time buyers.

For households that earn less than 80% of the area median income, the program offers a $7,500 no-interest loan that can be used as an additional down payment or to cover closing costs or insurance premiums on a WHEDA-backed mortgage. No payments are made on the loan until the mortgage is paid off or refinanced.

“As entry-level housing prices and interest rates rise, down payment assistance is more important than ever before to make buying a home more realistic and affordable,” said WHEDA CEO Elmer Moore, Jr. in a statement. “This program is just one more way that we are working to ensure all people in Wisconsin have an affordable place to call home.”

Additional details are available on the WHEDA website.

5 Star Business Center Opens

A four-in-one business center is now open at N. 24th Street and W. Walnut Street.

Instead of offering shared office spaces with dedicated desks, 5 Star Business Center offers bookable rooms through its Ujima Enterprise Incubator. It also offers vocational training through Five Star Educational Training.

“We believe that there is an important piece that is missing in supporting entrepreneurs in professional development and in supporting home-based businesses before they move into brick-and-mortars that most common co-working spaces don’t address,” said owner Akyaa Smith in an August statement announcing the opening.

Located at 1710 N. 24th St., the building also houses the Five Star Community Resource Center and the boutique retail space Ujamaa Marketplace.

Weekly Recap

Partner Sought To Reopen Milwaukee’s Oldest Bar

Landmark 1850 Inn, the oldest bar in Milwaukee, could reopen if a partner or new tenant is found.

Joseph G. Halser III owned, operated and lived above the Cream City brick tavern from 1983 until his passing in 2022, when the bar closed. His family is now seeking prospective partners to reactivate that historic business.

“It seems laughable, but few people understand how much time goes into running it right,” said Halser’s son, Joseph Halser IV. All three Halser sons had worked in the bar at points alongside their father. The right partner or tenant is one that can invest the time and energy into maintaining the building, which is as old as the city itself. “It’s never been about the money for us.”

Urban Milwaukee reported that the property, 5905 S. Howell Ave., was for sale last week, but that it came with the surrounding properties and yielded a 10.6-acre potential development site across from Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport. The asking price was $5 million.

Read the full article

Vel R. Phillips Plaza Takes Shape

It’s not hard to find a construction worker, or temporary road closure, in Westown.

There’s the $456 million Baird Center expansion, the $37 million Fiserv headquarters relocation, the new Kohl’s department store and the construction of Vel R. Phillips Plaza. All four projects meet at the corner of N. Vel R. Phillips and W. Wisconsin avenues, yielding a steady mix of badge-wearing convention attendees and PPE-donning construction workers.

The $16 million plaza project is the latest to break ground, with a June start, but it is the project intended to tie everything together in time for the July 2024 Republican National Convention. Named for Vel Phillips, a civil rights trailblazer from Milwaukee, the plaza will include a space to linger or host events, an art piece honoring Phillips and a 2,900-square-foot cafe.

The 30,000-square-foot plaza, currently subject to substantial earth moving and below-grade construction, is to include a manicured garden, flexible space for farmers markets and other events, an informational kiosk, public art installations and a station on Milwaukee County’s Connect 1 bus rapid transit line.

Read the full article

Bartolotta Headquarters Moving to Walker’s Point

The Bartolotta Restaurants will vacate its headquarters to make way for the construction of the new Milwaukee Public Museum building.

For the past 12 years, Bartolotta has occupied a building at 520 W. McKinley Ave. in the Haymarket neighborhood. The structure and neighboring properties on the northeast corner of N. 6th St. and W. McKinley Ave. are being razed in preparation for the construction of Milwaukee Public Museum’s new $240 million facility.

Despite its relocation, the company will — in a way — live on at the site. The Bartolotta family will be recognized within the new space.

Bartolotta’s new offices will be in Walker’s Point at 234 W. Florida St.

Read the full article

Large Harbor District Development Site Hits The Market

Change could be coming to a highly visible site between Walker’s Point and Bay View.

The Tender Car Collision auto body shop at 1825 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. is for sale. The 1.4-acre site is being marketed as a “fantastic redevelopment opportunity.”

The Harbor District property fronts E. Maple St. between S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and S. 1st St. and is located just north of the Kinnickinnic River. It’s located in the middle of a corridor that has seen substantial development to the north and south in the past decade.

“High visibility and endless possibilities in a prime location,” says the listing. The KinetiK apartment building, Michels Corp’s River One complex, Komatsu Mining South Harbor Campus and Freshwater Plaza are all within a half mile. The southern entry to the northern leg of the Kinnickinnic River Trail starts kitty-corner from the property. In recent weeks, Porter Pipe & Supply opened a new distribution facility across the street,

Read the full article

Supervisors Endorse Airbnb Renovation Plan For Dilapidated Greendale Farmhouse

A plan to redevelop a historic farmhouse owned by Milwaukee County Parks received its first approval from the Milwaukee County Board.

Greendale entrepreneur, Virginia Emmons, plans to lease and rehab the historic Stelzer farmhouse and barn near the intersection W. Loomis Road and S. Root River Parkway in Greendale.

Emmons plans to renovate the dilapidated buildings and make them available for short-term rental — on services like AirBnB — and events. According to the parks department, a bicycle-related business may also be included, given the project’s proximity to the Oak Leaf Trail.

The property has been vacant for years and the buildings have been left in a state of disrepair. The barn, in particular, is so run-down Parks has the property slated for demolition.

Read the full article

City Evacuates 27th Street Building Over Safety Concerns

Residents of a Near West Side apartment building find themselves looking for temporary housing or a new place to live following an unusual situation.

Rear external stairs collapsed on the SoHi Lofts creating a fire-safety risk at the 16-unit building, 2632 W. Wells St. The Department of Neighborhood Services (DNS), responding to a resident complaint, issued an emergency order on Sept. 1 and on Sept. 5 required all residents to leave by the next day.

The issue, according to all involved in a Tuesday meeting of the Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development Committee, starts with the early 2000s idea to install an outdoor elevator as part the failed redevelopment of the four-story building.

“They chose to build an outdoor elevator without using outdoor components, so it never worked,” said area Alderman Robert Bauman. “It looks like the ultimate Rube Goldberg operation.”

Read the full article

576-Unit Bay View Apartment Complex Wins Key Approval

An influential Milwaukee Common Council committee unanimously endorsed a $9.2 million subsidy agreement Tuesday to enable Bear Development to develop 576 affordable apartments at the north end of Bay View.

Meanwhile, a number of building permit requests to advance the $197 million project were filed in recent weeks and are under review by administration officials.

The complex would be the largest private affordable housing development in Wisconsin history. All of its units would be set aside for households that make no more than 80% of the area median’s income.

Kenosha-based Bear plans to develop eight new five-story buildings at the long-underutilized Filer & Stowell factory site, 147 E. Becher St.

Read the full article

Historic Commission Says No To Wrecking Former Wreck Room Tavern

The fate of a Historic Third Ward tavern that survived the neighborhood’s massive 1892 fire now lies in the hands of the Common Council.

The Historic Preservation Commission denied a demolition request Monday evening from General Capital Group and Joseph Property Development, setting up an appeal to the council.

Constructed in 1884, the two-story building at 266-272 E. Erie St. was originally a saloon and rooming house operated by the widowed Catherine Foley. Miller Brewing acquired the property in 1896, using it as a tied-house tavern, and expanded the structure in 1912. It later housed a prominent gay leather bar, Wreck Room, and served as the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design’s (MIAD) student union. A fire struck in January 2013, shuttering the building.

“From our side of the table, we have to do what’s right from the guidelines,” Commissioner Patti Keating Kahn said when she made a motion to deny the demolition request. “This commission has not been set up to deal with financial implications,” said Commissioner Sally Peltz, referencing the city’s preservation ordinance. The full council can consider economic factors on an appeal and overrule the commission.

Read the full article

Rite-Hite Affiliate Plans To Raze Reed Street Yards Building

A building once described as “one of the strongest and heaviest concrete structures in the country” is slated to be demolished.

An affiliate of Rite-Hite’s ownership group is moving to demolish the former Courteen Seed Company warehouse at 222 W. Freshwater Way.

The 11-story, 150,000-square-foot building, vacant for decades, sits at the eastern gateway to the Reed Street Yards business park just south of Downtown. Rite-Hite, a manufacturer of warehouse equipment, opened its multi-building headquarters complex in the business park earlier this year.

“[SixSibs Capital] looked at multiple options to renovate and/or repurpose the building, but after many years of vacancy, expert engineering studies report that the building structure has deteriorated beyond repair,” said a spokesperson in a statement. “The timeframe for demolition is unknown and pending the permit process with the City of Milwaukee. Ownership intends to save or recycle materials and objects found within the building for future use. Development plans for the property are in the early stages with nothing definitive to share at this time.”

Read the full article

City Seeks Input on How to Grow Milwaukee

There are still opportunities for Milwaukeeans to help decide how the city will grow.

The Department of City Development is leading a project called Growing MKE, a citywide planning effort concerning housing growth and choice.

Since early summer, the department has sought input from residents.

“We know that the city is going to grow, and we want to make sure that our zoning codes and our related policies are set up to facilitate the type of growth that residents want to see,” said Sam Leichtling, the city planning manager for the Department of City Development.

Read the full article

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits.

One thought on “Plats and Parcels: Water Company Moving To Downtown”

  1. BigRed81 says:

    Shame on the Marcus Corporation for closing Milwaukee Movie Theaters. Generations of Milwaukeeans grew Marcus Theaters to the empire it became.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us