Gas Light Building is for sale

The iconic Gas Light Building in downtown Milwaukee, known for the weather beacon “flame” lamp mounted on top of the building that changes color based on forecast weather conditions, is for sale.

The 20-story, 131,727-square-foot Art Deco inspired building is located at 626 E. Wisconsin Ave. It was built in 1930 by the Wisconsin Gas Company and was designed by Eschweiler & Eschweiler.

The building is being listed for sale by Jim Postweiler of JLL (formerly known as Jones Lang LaSalle). The building is owned by a group of Wisconsin-based investors, he said. The registered agent for the building’s ownership group, named 626 East LLC, is James Drescher, according to state records.

“They’ve been good stewards of the property,” Postweiler said. “They’ve done a fair amount of work on the building. They’ve upgraded the mechanical systems but maintained the architectural integrity. They’ve owned it for several years.”

The building has an assessed value of $10,678,000, according to city records. There is no asking price for the building, Postweiler said. Some groups have already expressed interest in purchasing the building, he said.

“We’ve got good interest and we expect good interest,” Postweiler said.

The building’s office space is 87 percent occupied, according to JLL. The building is anchored by the United States Forest Service, which occupies 91,767 square feet on nine floors with a lease through August of 2023. The building is the headquarters for the U.S. Forest Service’s Eastern Division, which covers the agency’s operations in 20 states.

The property has a six-story, 212-space parking structure that was built in 2002, plus 42 surface parking spaces.

The building was completely renovated in the mid 2000s at a cost of nearly $3 million, according to JLL. Additional improvements done in 2013 and this year, including façade repair, security system and parking garage enhancements and electric system upgrades, cost about $310,000.

In 2013 the neon tube lighting system in the weather beacon “flame” lamp was replaced with an LED lighting system. The new LED system allows for millions of colors and other lighting schemes outside of the beacon’s tradition red-gold-blue system (red light for warm weather, gold for cold weather, blue for no change in the weather, blinking light for precipitation).

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