In the two years since it opened, the seven-story, 98,000-square-foot Global Water Center has become 99 percent occupied, said Meghan Jensen, director of marketing and membership for The Water Council, which operates the Global Water Center. In fact, 45 water-related organizations are currently located in the building in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood.
All that is left in the former warehouse building at 247 W. Freshwater Way is about 1,500 square feet of unbuilt space on the fourth floor and two available offices on the fifth floor, according to Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of the Milwaukee-based Water Council.
Construction is nearing completion on the sixth floor, where Marquette University will occupy three quarters of the floor with labs and offices. Marquette marks the third university to have a presence in the Global Water Center, along with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
About 20 Rexnord Corp. human resources staff moved into the remaining quarter of the sixth floor in mid-September, Jensen said.
One of the newest companies to call the Global Water Center home is the Waukesha-based civil engineering firm Ruekert & Mielke Inc., which is scheduled to hold a ribbon cutting and open house on Oct. 7 for its 408-square-foot space on the fifth floor. It is the firm’s fourth branch location.
Other new tenants as of the last few months, according to Jensen, are landscape architects Vandewalle & Associates Inc.; nonprofit The Brico Fund; and recent participants in The BREW, The Water Council’s entrepreneurship program.
With the center nearly occupied, Amhaus said a Global Water Center II is needed.
Scheduled to open in late summer or fall of 2016, the 46,600-square-foot building will provide additional space for tenants of the Global Water Center.
The 121-year-old industrial building at 326-332 W. Florida St. was purchased over the summer by Global Water Center II LLC, an affiliate of Milwaukee-based real estate development firm HKS Holdings LLC and the Global Water Center, for $950,000, according to state records.
Amhaus said Global Water Center II would also be ideal for small domestic and international businesses that are looking to rent a desk for a month or two or that need about 400 square feet for a year to test out the area.
Also in the works is the four-story, 80,000-square-foot Water Tech One building. Planned by General Capital Group LLP, it will be built across the street from the Global Water Center in the Reed Street Yards.
General Capital president Michael Weiss said the real estate development company is in “pre-leasing mode,” and it recently hired the brokerage firm Colliers International.
Although he does not have a specific timeline, he said, “We’re optimistic construction will start sooner rather than later.”
In addition to being LEED platinum-certified, Weiss said Water Tech One will boast a new glass technology for the windows called View Dynamic Glass that allows the tint of the glass to change based on the level of sunlight and the occupant’s preference.
“The combination of being on the water overlooking the Harley (-Davidson) Museum and next to the Global Water Center and being LEED platinum and having this glass technology will make this a very special building,” Weiss said.
The $22 million project to create the Global Water Center was completed in 2013. The building provides office space, laboratories and other facilities for businesses, universities and start-up firms involved in water technology. Tenants in the global water center include Badger Meter Inc., A.O. Smith Corp., the corporate headquarters for Rexnord Corp., and Veolia North America, a leading provider of environmental solutions.
The Water Technology District, which includes the Global Water Center, is responsible for spurring $211.6 million worth of development since 2012, when it became the epicenter of water technology and freshwater research. That finding came from an economic investment analysis of the Water Technology District released in late September by The Water Council, the
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.