Chicago developer plans to evict Postal Service from downtown Milwaukee building

Matt Garrison alleges USPS not keeping building in acceptable condition

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The Chicago-based investor and developer who purchased the downtown Milwaukee Post Office building three years ago announced in a five-part tweet Tuesday night he has filed an eviction notice against the United States Postal Service.

Matt Garrison, managing principal of R2 Companies, alleged on Twitter the postal service, which leases the 1.1 million-square-foot, four-story building at 341 W. St. Paul Ave., has not kept the building in acceptable condition, so he will remove them and begin renovating the building.

Spokespeople for the USPS could not be immediately reached Tuesday night.

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“Under the lease, the USPS shall ‘keep the property in good repair and a tenantable condition…’ the term repair includes repairs of every character, exterior and interior structural and non-structural, ordinary, as well as extraordinary,” Garrison said.

Garrison tweeted that he has waited for a response from the USPS for five months.

“They have not shared plans to address repairs and capital issues with the property for which they are 100 percent responsible,” Garrison said. “Since USPS is unwilling/unable to perform under the terms of the lease, we are seeking to remove them and begin renovations of the property. As one of the most visible structures/locations in (Milwaukee), this building deserves better.”

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Garrison purchased the downtown Milwaukee post office building for $13.1 million in October 2015 from a group of private investors based in Wauwatosa.

At the time, he announced a dramatic redevelopment plan for the building once the post office’s lease was up (click here to see web site for the project). The plans included 980,000 square feet of office space between renovations to the existing structure and a new office tower that would be built on its west end. A new 282,000 square-foot residential tower would be built on its east end, according to the plans. Renovations to the existing structure would also create 300,000 square feet of space to be filled by restaurants, bars and entertainment venues as well as 212,000 square feet of space for a big box retailer. A 13,000-square-foot extension of the river walk and a 14,000-square-foot pedestrian bridge connecting the building to the Harley-Davidson Museum across the Menomonee River would also be added, according to the plans.

Garrison discussed the plans further with BizTimes in November 2015. He also spoke about the project at the 2015 BizTimes Media Commerical Real Estate and Development Conference (click here to see a video of his remarks).

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Along St. Paul, Garrison envisioned various types of retail on the first and second floors – including at least one big-box store – to activate foot traffic along St. Paul and draw people from the Third Ward.

He was planning parking, hidden on the third floor and possibly a single corporate tenant on the fourth floor.

In October 2015, the current lease was still in place for four years and eight months, with an option to extend it for up to 30 years.

Back side of the downtown MIlwaukee U.S. Postal Service facility.

When he purchased the building, Garrison said the property made the investment worth the wait. The downtown Milwaukee post office building property has approximately 1,500 feet of frontage on the Menomonee River.

Three years ago, Garrison was working with Gensler, a San Francisco-based architectural firm, on a redevelopment feasibility plan for the property. Gensler’s previous projects include the Facebook headquarters, Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Shanghai Tower and the San Francisco International Airport.

When reached Tuesday evening, Garrison said right now, he is focused on the current task of evicting the Post Office.

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