Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:01 pm
Fond du Lac-based Badger Liquor will move 100 office workers from West Allis to the Schlitz Park complex near downtown Milwaukee, adding to the growing list of companies relocating its workforce from the suburbs to the downtown area.
Badger Liquor, the state’s largest wine and liquor distributor, has signed a 10-year lease with Schlitz Park for 24,000 square feet of office space in the RiverCenter building, 1555 River Center Drive.
Badger Liquor is the first tenant that has been announced for a $6.73 million renovation project Schlitz Park is starting this month that will convert 80,000 square feet of former warehouse space into office suites in the RiverCenter building.
Badger Liquor, which has 430 employees with locations in Fond du Lac, West Allis and Eau Claire, will move its sales and office employees from its West Allis site, 2200 S. 114th St., to Schlitz Park in early January.
Warehouse and operations employees will remain at Badger Liquor’s West Allis location.
John Boulahanis, executive vice president of sales for Badger Liquor, said the company chose Schlitz Park because it is centrally located and is closer to its customers.
The company is also hoping to attract more millennials to its workforce, Boulahanis said.
Located on the Milwaukee RiverWalk, the first floor project to convert warehouse space into office space at Schlitz Park’s RiverCenter building is expected to bring a total of 350 jobs to downtown Milwaukee. Schlitz Park developer Gary Grunau said discussions are underway with two additional possible tenants highly interested in relocating to the space.
“Like Badger Liquor, these are companies that will bring new jobs and new employees to downtown,” Grunau said. “That’s why we continue to invest in increasing the value of the economic development asset that is uniquely Schlitz Park.”
Jenna Maguire and Ned Purtell of RFP Commercial, Inc., represented Schlitz Park, and Sam Dickman and Zachary R. Noble of The Dickman Company, Inc., represented Badger Liquor, in negotiating the lease.
In July, Grunau received a $1.25 million loan from the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation to convert the warehouse space, which was vacated by Assurant Corp.
Badger Liquor’s decision to move its office staff downtown is the latest company to move its staff from the suburbs to the downtown area.
Schlitz Park has already attracted several companies from the suburbs including Trusted Media Brands (formerly Reader’s Digest Association Inc.), which moved its office from Greendale in 2014, bringing 200 employees to the downtown area. HSA Bank also moved from Glendale to Schlitz Park in 2014.
Brookfield-based marketing firm Bader Rutter will move to the former Laacke & Joys site along the Milwaukee River next year and will bring 220 employees downtown.
Decision Resources Group earlier this year signed a lease to move from its Greenfield office to the 411 E. Wisconsin building. That move brings 200 people to downtown.
REV Group moved its corporate headquarters from Orlando to the Milwaukee Center office tower in downtown Milwaukee. Tim Sullivan, the company’s CEO is estimating the company will have 20 to 25 people in that office.
In 2015, Plunkett Raysich Architects moved its headquarters from the far northwest side of Milwaukee to a building just south of the Historic Third Ward, bringing about 60 employees to the area near downtown.
In late 2014, The Dohmen Co. moved its headquarters from Menomonee Falls to the Third Ward. Dohmen employs about 185 people in Milwaukee.
At the former Pabst Brewery complex, office tenants are also coming from outside of downtown. SafeNet Consulting, TCF Bank and Klement Sausage all recently moved to the complex from outside of downtown Milwaukee.
“More companies are realizing what is happening downtown and the need to come down here to attract innovative and energetic people,” Grunau said. “It’s about talent and being where the action is.”