DOA seeks to replace downtown Milwaukee state office building

Walker allocates money for land acquisition in capital budget

The state office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:58 am

Construction of a replacement for the 54-year-old state office building at 819 N. 6th St. in downtown Milwaukee could be started by the spring of 2019 under a plan from the state Department of Administration included in Gov. Scott Walker’s capital budget proposal.

State office building
Downtown Milwaukee state office building

Walker’s budget recommends approving $4 million to acquire land for the project. The Department of Administration had sought $65 million for the new facility and the governor recommends funding the remainder of the project with residual bonding.

The proposal calls for a new 163,400-square-foot facility and 690-stall parking structure of surface lot. The building would house offices for the departments of Administration, Health Services, Revenue, Workforce Development, and Public Instruction, along with the governor’s Milwaukee office, the office of the State Public Defender and the Board on Aging and Long Term Care.

The current Milwaukee state office building, built in 1963, would be vacated and sold under the proposal. The Department of Administration noted many of the facility’s major building systems need to be modernized to meet current code requirements and there are issues with accessibility, air quality and tenant requirements. The building also will need substantial critical maintenance over the next five to 10 years, according to the proposal.

The proposal does not specify a location for the new building and a DOA spokesman pointed to language in the proposal indicating the state would select a developer through an RFP/RFQ process.

“The successful proposer will be required to provide full design services (including a Program Statement) and construct a turn-key office building and parking structure that the State will purchase when completed,” the proposal says.

The proposed timeline suggests the department would issue a request for proposals in April 2018 with a developer selected by August. Construction would begin in April 2019 and the project would be completed by August 2021.

The capital budget describes the project as part of DOA’s “Milwaukee Real Estate Strategic Plan initiative” which aims to reorganize and consolidate state office space in the city of Milwaukee.

The proposal also notes that the Milwaukee plan includes the potential sale of the Department of Natural Resources Southeast Regional Headquarters at 2300 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The 2013-15 budget included $17 million for a replacement on the same site, the proposal says a new location is now being considered.

Walker’s full capital budget recommends $803.5 million worth of projects, down from the $848.7 million included in the final version of the current budget and $1.45 billion in the 2013-15 budget.

Other proposals in Walker’s capital budget include:

  • $75 million in program revenue supported borrowing for the construction of a 150,000-square-foot Southeast Wisconsin Law Enforcement Facility. The facility would house the Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement Services Crime Laboratory; the Division of Criminal Investigation Field Office; a regional office for the Attorney General; and a regional training center. No location is specified and the Department of Administration notes that it received 30 total responses in 2014 when it issued a request for information for potential sites in Milwaukee County or eastern Waukesha County.
  • $52.2 million for the renovation of the former Columbia St. Mary’s complex on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The UW System had sought $69.1 million for the project which would renovate 470,100 square feet across seven buildings.
  • Denying a request for $5 million from Concordia University Wisconsin to support the new Free Enterprise Center. The university had argued the new building would serve to focus “the regional dialogue related to innovation and entrepreneurship in business and health care, bridging the gap between higher education and industry.”

The State Building Commission still needs to sign off on the projects before they are included in the state budget.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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