CRE Spotlight: Walker’s Point industrial building attracts office tenants

    It turns out First Street is the right place for IndependenceFirst and First Edge Solutions. IndependenceFirst is a non-profit organization serving people with disabilities and First Edge Solutions is an on demand digital reproduction, document management, integrated marketing and information management company.

    The two firms have decided to move to a 60,000-square-foot industrial building at 544 S. First St., in Milwaukee’s Walkers Point neighborhood. The building is being transformed into primarily an office building.

    First Edge Solutions recently moved from the Third Ward into 20,000 square feet of space in the building. Half of the First Edge space is being used for office space and the other half for its print shop. IndependenceFirst plans to move to 40,000 square feet of space, that is being converted into office space, in the building in the fall.

    IndependenceFirst and its 95 employees will move from a 30,000-square-foot space at The Tannery complex at 600 W. Virginia St. Milwaukee.

    “We were evaluating different options for about two and a half years and looked at a number of different locations in the area,” said Scott Luber, administrative director for IndependenceFirst. “This opportunity just came to us. It met our needs, location-wise and is easily accessible by our consumers and our visitors. It’s on two bus lines and it’s got great parking.”

    IndependenceFirst plans to design its space as a “model of accessibility,” Luber said.

    “We want to show people how to make businesses and other places more accessible to people with disabilities,” he said.

    First Edge Solutions, formerly located at 300 N. Jefferson St., recently acquired Phoenix-based Metagraphix Inc., which had a facility in New Berlin. First Edge closed the New Berlin facility, but kept the Metagraphix employees. First Edge now has 40 employees in Walker’s Point.

    First Edge and Metagraphix were direct competitors said First Edge president and chief executive officer Robert M. “Bobby” Kraft. The firms compliment each other’s strengths and weaknesses well, he said. With the acquisition First Edge now has better economies of scale for purchasing and shipping, plus access to the growing southwest market with the Phoenix facility, which remains operational.

    In February, First Edge began work completely gutting its space in the Walker’s Point building. The interior office space includes thick wood timbers, commonly seen in restored Third Ward buildings.

    The company has about the same amount of space in its new location as it did in the Third Ward, but it is far more efficient Kraft said.

    “It feels like we have two times as much space,” he said.

    The building was formerly occupied by BakeMark USA, a Pico Rivera, Calif.-based subsidiary of Diemen, The Netherlands-based CSM nv. BakeMark, a distributor and manufacturer of bakery and food ingredients, that moved about a year ago to a larger facility in Menomonee Falls.

    Shortly before BakeMark moved out, the building was sold by former principals of Karp’s Bakery Supply, which was acquired by CSM in the 1990s, to a group of local investors for just more than $2 million.

    The revitalization of the building is just one of several developments that has occurred, or are occurring, along First Street and in the rest of Walker’s Point in recent years.

    Last year Vetter Denk, an architecture firm, completed a four-story, 25,000-square-foot office building at 161 S. First St. The firm also purchased three other nearby properties, a three-story, 6,000-square-foot building at 157 S. First St., 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. The firm plans to redevelop the 161 and 157 buildings and will demolish the building and garage southwest of First and Pittsburgh to create a site where it plans to build another new office building.

    Ann Pieper Eisenbrown, the president and founder of Milwaukee-based Pieper Properties Inc., organized a group of investors to purchase the 100,000-square-foot former Allen D. Everitt Knitting Co. building at 234 W. Florida St. and is redeveloping it into office space.

    Developer Tim Dixon is transforming a six-story, 95,788-square-foot former warehouse building at 500 W. Flordia St. into the 102-room Iron Horse Hotel.

    Other development projects are in the works for the neighborhood and for First Street said Sam Dickman Sr., president of Milwaukee-based The Dickman Company Inc. and the leasing broker for the 544 S. First St. building.

    “As you go down First Street I would say in the next couple of years it is going to look completely different,” Dickman said.

    “We are very excited about some of the changes going on in the neighborhood,” Luber said. “We are hoping there is going to continue to be more growth and positive change, more development and new businesses coming into the area.”

    Kraft said he likes the diversity of the Walker’s Point area.

    “I’m thrilled about being here,” he said. “For us to be in the most diverse neighborhood in probably the state of Wisconsin, you have all different cultures within shouting distance. We can hire from within the city. We are on the bus line. We are committed to the city of Milwaukee.”


    Kenosha-based Bear Realty plans to build a two-story, 20,000-square-foot office building at 1900 15th St., next to a Candlewood Suites hotel that the company is building. Mequon-based Concordia University Wisconsin will move its Kenosha Center from the 3,500-square-foot space it leases in the Johnson Bank Building at 7500 Green Bay Road, Kenosha, to occupy the 10,000-square-foot first floor of the Bear Realty building. The second floor will be leased to other tenants.

    Bravo Realty LLC plans to build six 9,000-square-foot office buildings on a vacant site at 6425 Green Bay Road.

    Waukesha-based BRC Associates plans to build a 15,000-square-foot Walgreens store at the southeast corner of 75th Street and Sheridan Road. A small commercial building and four to five homes would have to be demolished for the project, which still needs approval from city officials.

    Port Washington

    Manitowoc Crane Group, a division of Manitowoc-based The Manitowoc Company Inc., plans to add a 6,000-square-foot addition to its facility at 1190 Mineral Springs Dr. in Port Washington. The company added a 25,000-square-foot addition to the building last year. Once the latest addition is complete, the building will have 81,000 square feet of space.


    Hainbuch America Corp., the U.S. division of Germany –based Hainbuch GMBH, plans to move from 7384 N. 60th St. in Milwaukee to Mequon. The company will lease 7,000 square feet of space in a 12,000-square-foot light industrial building that will be built by Brookfield-based Megal Development Corp. at Commerce Street and Executive Drive in Mequon Business Park II. Hainbuch designs and manufactures clamping devices. The company has about 10 employees in Milwaukee.


    Total Team Construction LLC recently moved its headquarters from 260 Regency Ct. in the Town of Brookfield to a newly remodeled office at 237 Harrison Ave. in Waukesha. The company, which recently celebrated its five-year anniversary, now has a 3,700-square-foot office space.

    Menomonee Falls

    Brayton Devo LLC plans to build a 5,500-square-foot addition to the 10,000-square-foot former Locker’s/ Boesen floral shop at N87 W16585 Appleton Ave. Su Casa Mexican Grill plans to move from N81 W15094 Appleton Ave. into the former floral shop building. Su Casa also has locations in Sussex and Pewaukee.

    Snap Fitness plans to open a health club in a 2,400-square-foot space at N72 W13400 Lund Lane.

    Brown Deer

    Jackson-based Design 2 Construct Development Corp. plans to build a 7,600-square-foot multi-tenant office building on a vacant 1.25-acre site at 8860 N. 60th St. Levine Dental Associates plans to occupy about 4,500 square feet of space in the building and will move there from 5600 W. Brown Deer Road.


    Fox Point-based Home Source One, the sales arm of Asset Development Group, plans to assemble and sell 55 manufactured homes in The Reserve at Brookside Meadows, N1114 W20886 Meadowbrook Lane, Germantown. The homes are manufactured by Dorchester-based Liberty Homes. So far two model homes have been assembled in the project, the newest is about 1,400 square feet. The homes will range in price from $139,000 to $159,000. Home Source One says one reason the homes are so affordable is because of its land-lease agreements, under which residents share the cost of property taxes with their neighbors.



    CB Richard Ellis

    EL-Rey LLC leased 8,000 square feet of retail Space at 3650 W. Washington St., West Bend, from Janpac LLC.
    Public Allies Inc. leased 6,319 square feet of office space at 611 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, from Stonewater Historic Milwaukee LLC.
    Guild Mortgage Company leased 2,150 square feet of retail space at 3333 S. 27th St., Milwaukee, from Southgate Marketplace LLC.
    National City Corp. leased 22,500 square feet of office space at 411 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, from NNN 41 East Wisconsin Ave.
    Burlington Coat Factory of Wisconsin LLC leased 70,000 square feet of retail space at 6748 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis, from Ramco-Gershenson, Inc.

    Mid-America Real Estate

    Pick ‘n Save leased 61,000 square feet of space in the Shoppes at Fox River, 1200 Sunset Dr., Waukesha, from Opus North Corp.
    Famous Labels leased 31,847 square feet of space and Animal Crackers leased 5,400 square feet of space at Highland Plaza, 8560 W. Brown Deer Road, Milwaukee.

    Ogden & Company

    GB Tools and Supplies Inc. leased 33,000 square feet of warehouse space at 5519 W. Woolworth Ave., Milwaukee, from Abcon Enterprises Inc.
    Laacke & Joys renewed its lease for 14,000 square feet of retail space in East Towne Square at 1515 W. Mequon Road, Mequon.
    Mequon Myotheraphy & Associates leased 1,500 square feet of office space at 11051 N. Towne Square Road, Mequon.
    Brooksource leased 1,033 square feet of office space, Promo540 leased 364 square feet of office space, Cathedral Consulting LLC leased 660 square feet of office space and Bond Holding Corp. leased 1,692 square feet of office space in the Northern Lights Building at 1661 N. Water St., Milwaukee.

    Siegel-Gallagher Inc.

    Carpenter Brothers Inc. leased 5,300 square feet of office space at Liberty II, 4555 W. Schroeder Dr., Brown Deer, from Ripp Properties.


    Crabel Real Estate Partners LLC purchased a 38,442-square-foot office building at 9275 N. 49th St., Brown Deer, from Deerfield Service Center LLC.

    New construction

    Brookfield-based Briohn Building Corp. recently completed the design and construction of a 59,410-square-foot warehouse addition for Beechwood Distributors Inc. at 5350 S. Emmer Dr., New Berlin. Briohn also recently completed the design and renovation of 20,000 square feet of warehouse space into office and manufacturing space at 544 S. First St., Milwaukee, for First Edge Solutions. Briohn has also completed the design and construction of a 4,362-square-foot interior build-out for the Northwestern Mutual Financial Network office at 500 W. Silver Spring Dr., Suite K-290, Glendale, in Bayshore Town Center.
    Kenosha-based Riley Construction Company Inc. was selected by United Hospital System to build the 322,000-square-foot addition to St. Catherine’s Medical Center in Pleasant Prairie.


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