BMO Tower construction begins in downtown Milwaukee

Rendering of the new tower.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:54 pm

A groundbreaking ceremony was held Thursday in downtown Milwaukee to celebrate the start of construction for the 25-story BMO Tower, an office building that will be home to BMO Harris Bank’s Wisconsin headquarters and Milwaukee law firm Michael Best & Friedrich.

Click here to see a video of the ceremony from WISN-TV Channel 12, a media partner of BizTimes Milwaukee.

The $132.6 million project is being developed by Irgens, which purchased BMO Harris Bank’s current 20-story office tower downtown and adjacent seven-level parking structure at 770 N. Water St. in August for $7.1 million. The new office tower will be built at the site of that parking structure, which will be torn down.

Irgens also is working on plans for a redevelopment project for the existing BMO Harris office tower.

During the groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett praised developer Mark Irgens, CEO of Irgens, for his vision and BMO Harris and Michael Best for their investment in the city. The BMO Tower project is just the latest example of a development boom occurring in downtown Milwaukee, Barrett said.

“The hits just keep on coming,” he said. “What we’re experiencing today is a very significant step in the Milwaukee renaissance. This city, at this time, is nothing short of remarkable. People are understanding how great investment in the urban center can be.”

The new 379,400-square-foot building is scheduled for completion in December 2019.

BMO Harris will lease 124,000 square feet and occupy the building’s first, and 11th through 16th floors.  Floors 11 and 12 will have outdoor patios facing Lake Michigan, Irgens said.

Michael Best will lease 60,000 square feet in the top three floors, which will also include an outdoor patio on the 25th floor.

The building’s remaining space is available for lease.

Because Wells Street is on a slope, BMO will create a two-story flagship branch on the corner of Broadway and Water.

On the corner of Broadway and Wells, Irgens is planning 7,168 square feet of retail space, which will likely be a restaurant. There is another 3,826 square feet of restaurant space in the office tower.

Ten floors of parking for 647 stalls will be hidden within the building. The ramp will be built using translucent glass so at night it will be lit up, Irgens said.

On the lower level of the building there will be a full-sized fitness center with showers and lockers that will be free of charge for tenants of the building.

The building that will connect the 770 building and the new BMO Tower will be renovated and include a café that serves breakfast, lunch and cocktails at night.

“What we want to do is create a retail presence all over the block, from Mason to Wells Street and along Water Street,” Irgens said. “I’m hoping this will be a catalyst for other things to happen downtown.”

First Pathway Partners has been engaged to raise $17 million in EB-5 financing for the project, which will reduce the mortgage term loan to $85 million and replace $6 million of equity. Irgens is not getting city assistance to finance the new office tower.

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