BMO Harris to build 25-story office tower downtown

Rendering of the BMO Harris Financial Center.

BMO Harris Bank will build a 25-story office tower next to its current office building on Water Street in downtown Milwaukee and real estate development firm Irgens will take possession of the bank’s current building and refurbish it in preparation for new tenants, according to an internal memo obtained by BizTimes.

The new building, which will be called the BMO Harris Financial Center, will be 335 feet tall and will be built at 780 N. Water St., a site currently occupied by a seven-level parking structure for the existing BMO Harris office building.

BMO Harris employees from the bank’s existing office building at 770 N. Water St. and the Milwaukee Center building at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. downtown will move to the new building when it opens in December of 2019, according to the memo, signed by BMO Harris CEO David Casper and Alex Dousmanis-Curtis, group head, U.S. Retail and Business Banking.

“The transformational new office space will reflect the future of BMO Harris Bank, providing an exciting, vibrant environment for our customers to conduct their banking, and for our employees to work,” Casper and Dousmanis-Curtis said.

Chicago-based BMO Harris Bank N.A has approximately 200 branches in Wisconsin, which is one of the company’s largest markets. BMO has about 3,000 employees in the Milwaukee market. The bank has two divisions based in Milwaukee.

BizTimes first reported on Tuesday that BMO Harris was planning a new downtown Milwaukee office building.

“The BMO Harris Financial Center will be one of the tallest office towers in Milwaukee,” the memo states. “It will be the base for our operations in the city, and it will add to the beauty of Milwaukee’s skyline. It will build on our long history on Water Street.”

Irgens will be the developer for the new building, according to commercial real estate sources.

The BMO Harris internal memo about the building indicates that Irgens will also acquire the bank’s existing 20-story building and refurbish it in preparation for new tenants. The current BMO Harris building is a Class B, 280,511-square-foot office tower built in 1967 as the headquarters for M&I Bank. The Godfrey & Kahn law firm moved out of the building earlier this year after leasing 92,000 square feet there since 1968. Godfrey & Kahn moved to the new 833 East office building downtown, also developed by Irgens.

A formal announcement from BMO Harris about its downtown Milwaukee office building plans is expected on Thursday.

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