Developer wants to evict Post Office from downtown Milwaukee building

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

Last updated on May 14th, 2019 at 06:04 am

The Chicago-based real estate development firm that purchased the downtown Milwaukee post office building three years ago has filed an eviction notice against the U.S. Postal Service.

Matt Garrison, managing principal of R2 Companies, alleged that 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 wants to remove it and begin renovating the building.

“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 on Twitter.

The USPS declined to comment on the dispute.

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 it appears that the 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.”

Garrison’s firm 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. 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 RiverWalk 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.

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

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.

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

When asked for an update on his plans for the property, Garrison said right now he is focused on the current task of evicting the post office.

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