‘Bullish on Milwaukee’

As an outsider looking in, Daniel Miranda says he is "bullish on Milwaukee." And he’s putting his money where his mouth is. Miranda is looking at southeastern Wisconsin through fresh, objective lenses that are not tainted with the typically humble perspective of a native business executive or the cheerleader mentality of a local chamber of commerce.

In essence, Miranda, who is president of Chicago-based HSA Commercial Real Estate, one of the largest property owners in the nation, wants to buy Milwaukee.

"We’re continuing to enthusiastically take a look at multiple properties. We are actively looking. It’s highly likely we will make additional acquisitions in that market, certainly in the next year," Miranda said.

HSA entered the market with a loud splash last December by acquiring the 195,000-square-foot Olson Cos. Inc. industrial plant in Glendale at 4200 N. Port Washington Road. Real estate sources said the sale/leaseback transaction was valued at "north of $5 million."

HSA quickly followed up by purchasing the 717,717-square-foot Brown Deer Business Park for $28 million in May.

That’s nearly 1 million square feet and $33 million of commercial real estate in southeastern Wisconsin in less than six months. And there’s more to come, Miranda said.

"If you look at southeastern Wisconsin, you have a well-trained workforce, excellent transportation and you’ve got a business-friendly environment," Miranda said. "These communities are making sure they do things that help businesses locate and grow. The cultural advantages, the housing advantages … Those are the fundamentals."

According to Miranda, from a commercial perspective, when you think of Silicon Valley, you think of technology. When you think of Pittsburgh, you think of Steeltown. When you think of Idaho, you think of potatoes.

However, when an outsider looks at Wisconsin, he or she might have any number of reference points. Wisconsin has been the Dairy State. Milwaukee has been the brewing capital of the world. Wisconsin once was thought of as the world’s tool box. According to Miranda, Wisconsin is all of those things … and more.

From a tourism perspective, that clouded image may be a branding nightmare.

However, from a real estate perspective, it’s a balanced, stable drawing card, according to Miranda.

Southeastern Wisconsin’s commercial real estate market is not prone to the severe mood swings of both coasts and is steadily propelled by a diversified economy, Miranda said.

"You have financial services, you have insurance, you have consumer products, you have all kinds of goods and services … You also have smaller companies, tech companies. Those are the kinds of things that make the market stable. You’re not only dependent on a single category for growth," Miranda said.

HSA is a full-service commercial real estate firm, specializing in office, industrial, retail and health care property leasing, management, marketing, development and financing.

The firm and its principals have developed and acquired more than 30 million square feet of commercial real estate with total consideration of more than $1.5 billion.

The company has completed more than 6,500 brokerage transactions in more than 30 states and manages a property portfolio of more than 15 million square feet.

HSA was recently ranked as the 18th-largest industrial property owner in the nation by National Real Estate Investor magazine.

Eric Ogden, vice president of HSA’s acquisition division, led the team that identified and completed the purchases of the Olson warehouse and manufacturing site and the Brown Deer Business Park.

Ogden is busy scouring southeastern Wisconsin for other existing and potential industrial sites.

HSA is looking for office, retail and medical office sites in the region, Miranda said. The company tends to buy and hold commercial real estate sites for several years. HSA also will buy sites on speculation and develop properties, he said.

"We’re very interested in continuing to look for prudent opportunities there," Miranda said. "We’re very interested in continuing to look at southeastern Wisconsin across multiple categories in industrial, flex and suburban office and retail."

July 9, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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