Chase Tower sold for $30.5 million

Downtown Milwaukee building acquired by Detroit-area firm

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The Chase Tower, a 22-story office building at 111 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee, sold recently for $30.5 million to a Southfield, Mich.-based real estate investment group, according to state records.

The Chase Tower in downtown Milwaukee.
The Chase Tower in downtown Milwaukee.

The building has been for sale since 2014, and sold to 111 W. Wisconsin Property Owner LLC, which is registered to NAI Farbman Group. The company manages more than 20 million square feet of office, retail, multi-family and industrial properties, according to its website.

The sale includes the connected parking structure at 543 N. Water St.

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The deal is the latest example of the growing number of national real estate investors acquiring commercial real estate assets in the Milwaukee area.

The 2014 listing of the Chase Tower was the third time the building’s owner, New York-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., attempted to sell the property since it bought the 472,507-square-foot building in 2006. The tower was part of a portfolio of buildings Brookfield Asset Management acquired from JPMorgan Chase.

Andrew Farbman, chief executive officer of NAI Farbman Group, said he has been looking to come to Milwaukee for a very long time and said he is “psyched” about this opportunity.

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Farbman said his company will be very active in the building and plans to invest millions of dollars to improve amenities and change the ceiling of the building to give it a new feeling.

“We’re going to take its natural bones and make it better,” he said. “There is a lot to draw from and the downtown location is fantastic. There is some access to public transportation now, and Milwaukee is growing in that area, plus the residential footprint in the Third and Fifth wards is something we’re really fired up about.”

Farbman mentioned several other developments including the Bucks arena, Kimpton Hotel, Northwestern Mutual office tower and Irgen’s 833 E. Michigan St. office building as other reasons to be excited about Milwaukee.

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“We really study the Midwest and when you look at Milwaukee, and the way it has held up for 30-40 years compared to Detroit, Cleveland and Cincinnati it is impressive,” Farbman said. “We want to be on the front end of that run. We think this is a really neat opportunity to invest capital wisely in a good location and really ride a nice wave.”

Brookfield Asset Management  paid $45.8 million to purchase the Chase Tower in 2006. The building now has an assessed value of $28.79 million, according to city records.

The Chase Tower was built in 1961. It was originally known as the Marine Plaza building and was the largest office building in Milwaukee until 1973 when the 42-story U.S. Bank Center (originally the First Wisconsin Center) was built.

Chase Tower 111 E. Wisconsin Ave.
Chase Tower entrance at 111 E. Wisconsin Ave.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. remains the anchor tenant in the Chase Tower. Other tenants in the building include WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio, Infinity Healthcare, and the law firm of O’Neil, Cannon, Hollman, DeJong & Laing.

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