CRE Spotlight: Vetter Denk plans to help rebuild its new neighborhood

    Surveying the urban landscape from the company’s fourth floor office of its new building in the Fifth Ward at 161 S. First St., Vetter Denk principal Kelly Denk says, “there’s opportunity everywhere you look out these windows.”

    Last year the company completed the four-story, 25,000-square-foot (including the basement) building at 161 S. First St. The building is the new location for Vetter Denk’s corporate headquarters. The building has 20,000 square feet of office space, which is fully leased, and 5,000 square feet of first floor retail space, which is still available. About six potential tenants are considering the retail space.

    “We would like (the retail tenant) to be something that produces daytime and nighttime activity,” Denk said.

    Vetter Denk moved from its previous location in downtown Milwaukee at 614 N. Broadway, because it wanted a modern office space in an interesting neighborhood, where they could be urban pioneers contributing to the area’s revival.

    “This neighborhood is far more edgy, raw with diverse uses,” Denk said. “That’s what drew us to this area.”

    To take the next step to help rebuild the area, Vetter Denk has acquired three other nearby properties and plans to attract more business to the neighborhood. At the end of last year, Vetter Denk closed on its purchase of a three-story, 6,000-square-foot building at 157 S. First St., next to its new building; a two-story, 12,000-square-foot building at 131 S. First St. and a vacant lot and a small vacant building and garage southwest of First Street and Pittsburgh Street, and just south of its new building. Vetter Denk bought the properties from Steve Kaniewski, the owner of Brass Light Gallery, for an undisclosed price.

    Brass Light Gallery is consolidating its operations at 1101 W. St. Paul Ave. The store in the building at 131 S. First St. will close within the next 6 to 12 months, Denk said.

    Vetter Denk plans to build another building similar to its new building at 161 S. First St. on the lot southwest of First and Pittsburgh. The building will be four to five stories tall with about 20,000 square feet of space, with office space on the upper floors and retail space on the ground floor. The small vacant building and garage on the property will be demolished to clear space for a parking lot for the new building.

    “We’re trying to get two or three tenants committed before putting a shovel in the ground,” Denk said.

    The office tenants will be offered a share of the building’s ownership, or a share of the limited liability corporation for the building, as part of the deal, Denk and principal John Vetter said. Regular lease tenants will also be accepted.

    “(The ownership stake) is really a little different appeal that separates us out in the market,” Vetter said.

    The 157 S. First St. building will have 2,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and a 2,000-square-foot loft residence on the second floor and another on the third floor. Three people have already expressed interest in the two residential units, Denk said. Some of the potential retail tenants for the 161 S. First St. building are also considering the smaller space in the 157 S. First St. building.

    The 131 S. First St. building will have 6,000 square feet of retail space on the first floor and 6,000 square feet of office or retail space on the second floor.

    The Vetter Denk principals say they are excited to contribute to the transformation of the Fifth Ward, which is attracting development that is spilling over from the Third Ward.

    “We’re trying to further activate the neighborhood and do it through the inherent quality that currently exists here,” Vetter said.

    The South First Street area constantly buzzes with activity. Trains runs back and forth on the tracks just to the west of the Vetter Denk buildings, and South First Street is one of the busiest streets in Milwaukee.

    Plus, several other developments are occurring nearby. Lighthouse Development Company LLC is redeveloping the former Transpak Company complex southwest of South Water Street and East Pittsburgh Avenue into a mixed use urban village neighborhood. The First Place on the River project at 106 W. Seeboth St. is in receivership, but construction on the project is nearing completion, and Mandel Group Inc. has been hired to sell the remaining condo units in the building.

    Other recent developments in the area include Castings Point, built last year southeast of South First Street and South Water Street by Dixon Development, which has 9,100 square feet of retail space and 18,200 square feet of office space. Just east of Castings Point, Dixon built a four-story building with 60 apartments.

    The mix of old and new, modern residences and office space with old industrial users makes the neighborhood interesting and attractive to tenants, Vetter said.

    “This is viewed as an up and coming neighborhood,” he said. “This is a little more edgy, gritty what the Third Ward used to be. It’s an interesting combination of the old and the new. That’s really appealing to a lot of people. This area just pops with activity and energy.”

    More Milwaukee news

    Vita Fitness and Physical Therapy, which previously had a fitness center in the Blatz Apartment complex that was closed, recently opened a new fitness center in the Milwaukee Center building at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. Vita also has fitness centers in the Third Ward and Fox Point. “Until now, downtown Milwaukee hasn’t had a multi-dimensional therapy and training center to meet the growing needs of the population,” said Vital owner and president Tommy Grabowski “As a result, we decided to expand our offerings to residents and professionals living in and/ or working in downtown Milwaukee. The response has been very positive.”


    Devo Properties announced recently that it has fully leased the 90,000-square-foot Sendik’s Commons shopping center at 7901 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield. The shopping center will be anchored by a Sendik’s store, which is scheduled to open in May. The other tenants leasing space in the shopping center are Massage Envy, Cricket Communications, Toppers Pizza, Regency Beauty Institute, Alpha Cleaners and Great Clips. “I’m thrilled that just four months after Sendik’s Commons was announced, we’ve now signed tenants for all of our available space,” said Devo Properties principal Greg Devorkin. “We’re pleased to bring these high-quality tenants to the residents of Greenfield and the surrounding area.”


    CRE commercial real estate Transactions



    Dickman Company

    IndependenceFirst Inc. leased 39,084 square feet of space and First Edge Solutions Inc. leased 30,000 square feet of industrial space at 544 S. 1st St., Milwaukee, from 544 South 1st Street LLC.

    Inland Companies

    Inter Ocean Securities LLC leased 3,974 square feet of office space and M&I Equipment Finance leased 13,207 square feet of office space in the Milwaukee Center at 111 E. Kilbourn Ave., Milwaukee.

    MCS Industrial Direct LLC leased 5,350 square feet of industrial space at Woodgate Center, W237 N2889 Woodgate Road, Pewaukee.

    A-1 Transport leased 7,500 square feet of industrial space at West Allis Commerce Center, 2006-2142 S. 55th St., West Allis.

    Guaranty Bank leased 42,073 square feet of office space, Dr. Scott Lewis leased 1,674 square feet of office space, Salomone Associates Inc. leased 394 square feet of office space, Garber Properties Inc. leased 821 square feet of office space, Jonathon Hilton D.P.M. leased 870 square feet of office space and Oberndorfer Law Offices leased 491 square feet of office space at Bayshore Towne Center at 5800 N. Bayshore Dr., Glendale.

    Almo Distributing Wisconsin Inc. leased 107,505 square feet of industrial space at 7501 N. 81st St., Milwaukee.

    All States Trucking leased 48,498 square feet of industrial space at Capstone Business Center at 9875 S. Stern St., Oak Creek.

    Carmel Builders leased 2,300 square feet of office space at N85 W16080 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls.

    C&C Appleton Avenue LLC leased 1,458 square feet of office space at Executive Center III at 125 N. Executive Dr., Brookfield.

    McKennedy Marketing leased 1,254 square feet of office space at 19275 W. Capitol Dr., Brookfield.

    Mid-America Real Estate

    Starbucks Coffee Co. leased 1,738 square feet from Commercial Horizons Inc. at 2805 S. Green Bay Road, Racine.

    American Apparel Retail Inc. leased 3,731 square feet in Kenilworth Square, 2615 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee, from Kenilworth Retail LLC.

    Subway leased 1,520 square feet in the Village Square of Delafield at Highways 83 and 16 in Delafield from Delafield Investments LLC.

    Pick ‘n Save leased 60,692 square feet of space in Manchester Mall at Wisconsin Avenue and Falls Road in Grafton from Oak Street Associates Ltd.

    U.S. Cellular leased 1,622 square feet of space in Woodlands Market at the northwest corner of Appleton Avenue and Good Hope Road in Menomonee Falls from The Woodlands at North Hills LLC.

    Bruegger’s Bagels leased 1,750 square feet of space at the southwest corner of North Avenue and Prospect Avenue on Milwaukee’s east side from Boulder Venture.

    Starbucks Coffee Co. leased 1,785 square feet of space at One Mayfair Place, 2751 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa, from Alpine Partners.

    Kumon Math and Reading Center leased 1,504 square feet of space at Mequon Court II in Mequon from Concord 37 LLC.

    Dry Clean Discounters LLC leased 2,950 square feet of space at Highland Plaza, 8560 Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee, from 8600 Brown Deer.

    Simply Fashions leased 3,039 square feet of space at Midtown Center, at Capitol Drive and Fond du Lac Avenue in Milwaukee, from Inland Western Milwaukee Midtown LLC.

    NAPA Auto Parts leased 4,600 square feet of space at Twin City Plaza, 1750 Wisconsin Ave., Grafton.



    Mid-America Real Estate

    Stonefire Development LLC purchased 15.6 acres at the 50/94 Retail Center on 120th Avenue, Kenosha.

    BR of Wisconsin 12 LLC purchased 1.8 acres at Delavan Crossings at Highway 50 and I-43 in Delavan from Household Finance Corporation III.


    New construction

    Butler-based Berghammer Construction Corp. recenlty completed construction of the Howell Avenue Professional Building located in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. In addition to constructing the building, Berghammer performed the interior build-outs for Wasserman & Associates and Oak Creek Pediatrics. The two-story, 20,000-square-foot office building, designed by Welman Architects, Inc., Milwaukee, features extensive exterior brick with high-performance glass. Surrounded by existing and newly created water ponds, this building is phase I of a multi-phased development proposed for the South Howell Avenue site. 

    Waukesha-based Campbell Construction was selected as the general contractor for the interior office space renovation for Morris Material Handling at 315 Forest Hill Ave., Oak Creek.

    Waukesha-based Gerald Nell Inc. was selected to build a 7,000-square-foot Kwik Trip Inc. convenience store, gas station and car wash at 1200 E. Commerce St., Slinger.

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