BMO Tower opening delayed due to basement flooding

New target set for spring 2020

The BMO Tower in downtown Milwaukee.

Last updated on November 15th, 2019 at 02:21 pm

The opening of the BMO Tower in downtown Milwaukee, which was initially anticipated for December, is being pushed back to the spring following a water-supply breach at the construction site that caused flooding to the basement level of the building.

The 25-story glass tower is being built at 790 N. Water St. and has so far been about 55% leased.

Mark Irgens, chief executive officer and manager of Milwaukee-based project developer Irgens Partners LLC, said the project delay comes after the breach occurred late in the evening on Thursday, Nov. 7.

“The customized, state-of-the-art mechanical and electrical equipment damaged by the water will need to be replaced,” Irgens said. “As a result, the opening of the building has been delayed until early spring.”

He added that his firm has been actively working with the manufacturers of the equipment and subcontractors on the project to replace the damaged equipment since the flooding occurred. However, the replacement work will take some time.

“We’ve been in close communication with tenants set to move into the building, and we’re working to get the necessary repairs and replacements done to ensure there are no additional delays,” he said.

So far, Irgens Partners has named a handful of tenants of the new building. BMO Harris would lease both office space and first-floor retail space for a bank branch. The branch and some office employees would relocate from the existing building next door, at 770 N. Water St. More office employees would move in from the Milwaukee Center office building at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave.

Other announced tenants include Michael Best & Friedrich, Heartland Advisors Inc. and Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP.

A BMO Harris spokesman said workers will remain where they are in the meantime.

“We’ll remain in 770 N. Water (St.) for the time being,” spokesman Patrick O’Herlihy said in an email. “Due to the water supply breach, we (are) now aiming for an early spring move-in date. We’re looking forward to moving into this transformational new office space, one that provides a modern, vibrant environment for our customers to conduct their banking, and for our employees to work.”

Irgens said some construction work has resumed since the flooding event.

“We’re continuing to build the lobby for the building, doing drywall in various spaces (and) continuing to complete the exterior of the building,” he said.

Irgens did not provide a cost estimate to replace the equipment, nor did he further specify exactly when the new opening date might be. He said those details are still being worked out. As of this summer, the overall development cost was $137 million.

Many major construction projects have their share of challenges, and the BMO Tower is no exception. Work on the project had to be accelerated earlier this year after construction of the parking structure taking longer than anticipated. However, that setback didn’t effect the planned December completion date.

Get our email updates

Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.