Associated Bank has moved on to its next stage of renovations to its downtown Milwaukee office tower, about a year out from the scheduled move-in of about 400 employees.
Green Bay-based Associated purchased the 28-story Milwaukee Center building, at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave., in 2016. It renamed the building the Associated Bank River Center, and has commenced major renovations. The tower is connected to Associated's private client services building, the Saint Kate hotel and others.
Associated will occupy 75,000-80,000 square feet in the 373,000-square-foot River Center, said David Knight, Associated's director of real estate. The bank also occupies about 15,000 square feet of offices and 8,000 square feet of retail banking space in the private banking building.
Office employees will move to the new building next year, around the time that Associated's lease at the 330 Kilbourn office property in downtown Milwaukee expires at the end of June.
A "broad stroke" of office employees will occupy the Associated space, Knight said. Among them will be Associated's new chief executive officer, Andrew Harmening.
Harmening will reside in Milwaukee and split his time between Green Bay and Milwaukee, along with Associated's other markets, said Associated spokeswoman Jennifer Kaminski. Harmening recently bought a home in Whitefish Bay.
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Associated executives are located throughout the bank's footprint, including in Madison, Chicago and Minneapolis, Kaminski said.
Kaminski said Associated will have a hybrid model for its workers moving forward. About half of Associated workers have been working remotely since 2020. Associated offered a majority of those workers a choice to continue work remotely or to take a hybrid approach.
Sept. 7 is the official date that employees will take on their new work arrangements.
The bank already occupies 40,000 square feet at River Center since not all of its employees fit into the leased space at 330 Kilbourn, Knight said.
Associated has substantially completed the first phase of renovations to River Center, Knight said. This involved a complete remodel of the building's first floor and replacement of elevators and escalators.
The lobby has a bright new look, with new desk, dining area, technology lounge and secure access points to the office floors. Elsewhere, the new fitness center is nearly complete and the future kitchen space is more or less whiteboxed. Knight said the buildout of that space is on hold until Associated signs a deal with a food operator. The operator will serve office employees and members of the public.
The second phase entails work to the building's second floor. It will largely be the "executive floor" for Associated and the bank's own entrance to the building, he said.
"We intentionally did that … because we have a lot of other tenants in the building, and we wanted to create our own space but at the same time still make it feel like a multi-tenant building, despite the fact that we own it," Knight said.
A 130-person conference room, a 30-person training facility and a bar area will also be located on the second floor. Knight said the idea is to have the operator of the lobby cafeteria also operating the bar.
The second phase will likely finish around March or April next year, he said.
Also underway are RiverWalk improvements.
Later phases will involve upgrades to common areas, such as the enclosed space connecting RiverCenter with other buildings on that block.
River Center is between 75-85% occupied, Knight said. Associated is working with Colliers International | Wisconsin in seeking out new office tenants. Knight said two companies recently signed leases for 5,000 square feet each. He declined to name them, but said they were in the "financial realm." The bank also recently signed a deal with the operator of its new fitness center, Fit Pro MKE.