Foxconn pays $14.95 million for 611 Building

Property assessed at $11.5 million

Crews install Foxconn signage on the 611 Building.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:11 pm

A subsidiary of Foxconn Technology Group paid $14.95 million to The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. for the seven-story office building at 617 E. Wisconsin Ave. in downtown Milwaukee, known as the 611 Building, according to state records.

Crews install Foxconn signage on the 611 Building.

Foxconn announced last week it plans to make the building its North American headquarters, with plans for more than 500 employees at the site. The company announced plans to buy the building in February and executives said at the time it would also house an innovation center.

Built in 1964, the 132,000-square-foot building, parking garage and parking lot sits on a full city block and is assessed at $11.5 million.

Foxconn and city officials joked during a ceremony last week about the company someday building an office tower at the site.

Downtown Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman, who attended the ceremony, said afterward he didn’t think the company would be satisfied with what he described as “a very ugly, brutalistic building” as its North American headquarters.

“It’s a significant site … it could support very substantial development,” Bauman said, suggesting the company could build a tower similar to the one built by Northwestern Mutual. “We would almost expect it of a company this size.”

Bauman has also been a frequent critic of parts of the Foxconn project, pushing for the city to intervene in American Transmission Company’s request to build a transmission line from Racine to Pleasant Prairie to support the project and pushing for an expansion of public transit to the site.

In an interview Friday, Bauman said he doesn’t have an issue with the company but rather with state officials for offering up $3 billion in incentives to support Foxconn’s plans.

“I can’t blame a company for accepting a gift,” he said. “It’s the people who offered the gifts I have a problem with.”

Foxconn executives said Friday the investment in the 611 Building showed the company’s commitment to the state and Milwaukee. While Louis Woo, special assistant to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, said the idea of an office tower was “aspirational,” but he added it is what he would like to see.

Woo also said the 611 Building was the first the company had purchased in Wisconsin. The village of Mount Pleasant, however, earlier this year transferred 787 acres of land to FEWI Development Corp., the same subsidiary that bought the 611 Building. That land is being paid for with a special assessment as part of a tax incremental financing district.

Another Foxconn subsidiary, Adams Street Development, has also purchased two properties. In late December it purchased 65 acres of largely vacant land in Somers in Kenosha County, just south of the site of its planned 22-million-square-foot LCD manufacturing campus, for $1 million. Adams Street Development also purchased nearly 40 acres at the northeast corner of Bruan Road and Highway H in Sturtevant for $1.9 million in February.

The company hasn’t said what it plans to do with those properties.

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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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