Downtown, Near West Side being considered for state office buildings

Department of Administration narrows search for $140 million project

The state office building in downtown Milwaukee.

The state has narrowed its site selection options for two new office buildings, totaling $140 million, to one of two sites: one on Milwaukee’s Near West Side, the other downtown.

A 2.3-acre site south of West Wisconsin Avenue and west of North 27th Street and the vacant former Assurant Insurance building at 501 W. Michigan St. have been named as finalists for the project by the Department of Administration.

The department is now seeking bids for architectural and engineering services for the developments at the sites.

“In seeking these services, we are performing additional due diligence to ensure we have enough information to make the best possible decision for the state and taxpaying public, said DOA spokesman John Dipko.

The state office building in downtown Milwaukee will be replaced

The 5-story, 40-year-old former Assurant building has 370,160 square feet of space and an assessed value of $17 million, according to city records. The state project could be a redevelopment of that building, or a replacement.

In early March, the DOA issued a new request for proposal for the 100,000-square-foot Southeast Wisconsin Law Enforcement Facility project. State officials said they will consider a stand-alone project or the crime lab could be combined with the new state office building.

The new 165,000-square-foot state office building will replace its 54-year-old downtown Milwaukee office building at 819 N. 6th St.

The Near West Side Partners organization has been working to acquire properties and improve the block southwest of North 27th Street and West Wisconsin Avenue for future development.

The group is hoping to add a large catalytic project, like the state office building, to the corner to continue efforts to improve the neighborhood.

In 2015, Assurant announced plans to close its Milwaukee operations, and lay off 1,200 Milwaukee employees. In addition to the building, the property has a six-level, 807-space parking structure.

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