Developer buys former Assurant building in downtown Milwaukee

Project would add floors, new amenities to vacant office building

HQ501
HQ501. Rendering: Rinka

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:32 pm

Milwaukee real estate developer Scott Lurie has purchased the former Assurant office building at 501 W. Michigan St. in downtown Milwaukee, with plans to dramatically redevelop and expand the structure.

Lurie, founder and president of F Street Group, announced he closed on the purchase of the 370,000-square-foot building on Friday. The sale price wasn’t disclosed in the announcement. The building has an assessed value of $17.12 million, according to city records.

The building is being re-branded as HQ501. Lurie also unveiled renderings of his redevelopment plans there, which would include the addition of three to four stories on top of the five-story office building.

“We plan to create a new form of urban campus, appealing to a corporate user and connecting to what is all around 501,” Lurie said in a news release. “New workforce amenities along with the 800(-plus) car parking garage are key to attract (and) retain.”

Milwaukee-based Rinka is the architect for the planned redevelopment project.

“We believe in taking existing buildings and giving them new life, making the architecture sustainable, dynamic, and relevant to future users,” Matt Rinka, partner at Rinka, said in the release. “The concept proposes to renovate the existing (five)-story office structure and parking garage into a modern office campus designed to accommodate the way future generations want to work by providing new amenities, vibrant public spaces, connectivity to the surrounding downtown neighborhood, and a more timeless urban aesthetic.”

In purchasing and redeveloping the building, Lurie said he hopes to attract a “major tenant.”

The project’s website boasts a re-imagined entry to the building with expandable pedestrian-focused plaza, an “action-ready” rooftop area and large open floor plates of up to 64,200 square feet on a single level.

Bill Bonifas, Patrick Gallagher and Eric Rapp, of CBRE Wisconsin, and Patricia Algiers, of Chemistry in Place, represented Assurant in the transaction. Alyssa Geisler of CBRE Wisconsin and Algiers will work on the marketing and leasing of 501 for Lurie.

Lurie said he was interested in acquiring and redeveloping the building because of its location and visibility. For instance, 130,000 people see it daily on average from the I-794 freeway, according to Lurie. The building is near Amtrak’s Milwaukee Intermodal Station, and would also be close to both Milwaukee County’s proposed bus rapid-transit line and a proposed extension of the city’s streetcar.

It’s also located in the Westown area of downtown Milwaukee, which is seeing lots of development activity of late.

“All eyes are on Milwaukee now due to the great work the city and development community,” Lurie said. “501 will be part of Westown’s rebirth and is in the middle of so much, which makes it a natural site for the next headquarters moving to or relocating within Milwaukee.”

Other major projects in the general area include: The Avenue, redevelopment of the former Grand Avenue mall into a mixed-use center; the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s redevelopment of the Warner Grand Theatre; HUB640, the newly renovated former Boston Store buildings; and 310W, the re-branded former Reuss Federal Plaza building that’s undergoing significant renovations.

Lurie is responsible for redeveloping another downtown building, at the former Pabst Brewery complex. Known as The 42, the mixed-use development is home to a number of office users, with Badger Mutual Insurance Co. being its most recent addition, along with the MKE Brewing Co. 9th St. Brewery, the Glass + Griddle brewpub and Venue Forty-Two event space.

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Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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