Funding for new state office building in Milwaukee proposed in Evers’ capital budget

Budget item requests $98.5 million for 200,000-square-foot facility

The state office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 10:55 am

Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed capital budget backs plans for a new state office building in Milwaukee.

The state office building in downtown Milwaukee.

Included in the governor’s capital budget proposal for fiscal biennium 2019-2021 is a request by the Department of Administration to move forward with plans to construct a new 200,000-square-foot Milwaukee State Office Building. The state agency is requesting a total of $98.5 million be put toward these efforts, with Evers recommending the request be approved.

According to the proposed capital budget, the money would go toward building the new office building as well as a 680-stall parking structure or a surface lot nearby. The new building would replace the existing 55-year-old building at 819 N. 6th St. downtown.

Specifically, the project costs include about $76.2 million for construction, $6.5 million in design and $4 million to acquire the land, with other costs coming out to about $11.8 million. Construction would begin in August 2020 and finish up by August 2022, according to a proposed project schedule.

The new facility would be used by the governor’s Milwaukee office, the Board on Aging & Long-Term Care and various state departments, including Administration, Children and Families, Health Services, Revenue, Workforce Development and Public Instruction. The existing state office building would be vacated and sold as a result.

In early 2018, the DOA released a request for proposals to identify proposed sites within the city for a new state office building. Then in August, the agency named two finalist sites: A 2.3-acre site south of West Wisconsin Avenue and west of North 27th Street on the Near West Side, and the vacant former Assurant Insurance building at 501 W. Michigan St. downtown.

In its budget request, the DOA argues for the need of a new office facility in Milwaukee. The agency says the 55-year-old existing office building, which currently houses about 445 employees, is outdated and its building systems are “obsolete and inefficient.” There are also issues related to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, environmental air quality standards and tenant space needs.

“Substantial critical maintenance will be required over the next five to ten years,” the agency request states. “A build vs. renovate analysis was conducted and it was determined that it would be in the best interest of the state to sell this building and use the net proceeds to reduce overall project costs in the development of a new, more efficient MSOB and parking that would allow agencies to more efficiently utilize space.”

A DOA spokesperson declined to comment on the proposal.

Jeff Fleming, a spokesman with Milwaukee’s Department of City Development, acknowledged the city has been in talks with the state about a potential new office building but declined to provide further details.

Before the state can begin selecting a site and building a new Milwaukee office facility, the request has to make it into the final budget, which requires approval by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

A spokesperson with Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) didn’t immediately provide a reaction to the specific proposal. However, Vos and other Republicans in the Legislature have been critical of the governor’s proposed capital project budget.

Alex Zank, former BizTimes Milwaukee reporter.

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