American Family to sell building where it once planned a downtown Milwaukee office with 400 employees

Mandel building
Mandel building. Photo courtesy of American Family Insurance

Last updated on December 6th, 2022 at 03:47 pm

Madison-based American Family Insurance announced today that it plans to sell the historic building near downtown Milwaukee where it once planned to open an office with 400 employees.

American Family bought the former Mandel printing building at 1311-1325 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and a neighboring parking lot in late 2019 for $9.6 million. But after the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the United States in 2020, the company never moved forward with its plans to renovate and establish an office in the 5-story, 93,750-square-foot building built in 1909.

The pandemic ushered in a new normal for office work, and the company determined it did not need as much office space in downtown Milwaukee, said Kari Grasee, American Family’s vice president of business and workplace services.

“When the pandemic opened up options for how and where employees work, it meant American Family, like so many other companies, had to evaluate our real estate footprint and the space we need for the future,” Grasee said in a press release. “We’ve since developed a plan for our real estate portfolio, based on careful consideration of many factors such as business and space needs, lease terms and current building use.”

Given the variety of options for office work, the company is continuing to assess its space needs for Milwaukee, including the possibility of leasing any office space that may be required, the press release states.

Before deciding to sell the Mandel building, the company explored alternate uses for the structure, including donating it to a local nonprofit organization, according to the release. In the end, the decision was made to sell it.

The building currently has an assessed value of about $2.3 million, according to city records.

Though American Family won’t have a large office building in downtown Milwaukee, the company emphasized that its “commitment to the city remains strong and visible.”

“During the past five years, American Family has entered into meaningful partnerships and made investments of more than $10 million in the city – from educational programs to small business support and healthy youth development,” the release states.

The company also noted its sponsorships of American Family Field, the American Family Insurance Amphitheater and Summerfest.

“We continue to partner with key local organizations and Milwaukee-area universities and colleges to support youth and adults with gaining access to opportunities, with an emphasis on closing racial equity gaps while lifting and investing in community assets,” said Leana Nakielski, American Family director of community and social impact in Milwaukee. “We deeply value our partners and remain committed to driving positive societal impact well into the future.”

Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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