Goodwill to move into Reader’s Digest site in Greendale

Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin Inc. announced negotiations to relocate its headquarters to Greendale at a site currently owned by a subsidiary company of Reader’s Digest Association Inc.

The building the nonprofit organization hopes to move into is a 164,800-square-foot space located on 14.5 acres at 5400 S. 60th St. in Greendale.

A Reader’s Digest spokeswoman acknowledged that the company’s Greendale facility is for sale and that the company plans to relocate its operations to another site in the Milwaukee area.

“We are looking for new space in the metro Milwaukee area that will better meet our current needs,” said Susan Russ, spokeswoman for Reader’s Digest. “We are looking for 65,000 to 75,000 square feet and will build a new state-of-the-art test kitchen primarily for Taste of Home, the world’s largest food magazine. We will also be building a photo and video studio.”

The Greendale office is the home of Taste of Home and Reader’s Digest’s Enthusiast magazine brands: Birds & Blooms, Country, Country Woman, Farm & Ranch Living and Reminisce. Reader’s Digest has 200 employees working in the building. Reader’s Digest hopes to complete the relocation of the office by early 2014, Russ said.

The iconic building, known for its resplendent flowers in the front parking lot, was the former home of Reiman Publications. Founder Roy Reiman sold a majority stake in his company in 1998 to Chicago investment firm Madison Dearborn Partners. Reader’s Digest Association bought Reiman Publications four years later. Reader’s Digest was acquired by an investment group led by Ripplewood Holding LLC in 2007.

Goodwill began looking at potential sites for relocation two years ago and has been exploring the possibility of moving into the Greendale space for the past year.

“We were looking for a multi-use site that was located in the southern portion of Milwaukee County,” said Pat Boelter, chief marketing officer of Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin.

“We wanted to make our services as accessible as possible,” Boelter said.

Readers Digest came out of bankruptcy on July 31, which enabled Goodwill to begin negotiating the sale of the proposed property.

“We are now in those negotiations, but nothing is final yet,” Boelter said.

Goodwill hopes to finalize the purchase of the property in the next 60 days. The nonprofit would then proceed with a facility and remodeling plan, which it would aim to complete by 2014 before occupying the building in early 2015.

According to Boelter, Goodwill plans to consolidate its administrative support functions and missions services in the Greendale building and move 500 employees to the new site.

Administrative support functions would include its purchasing, marketing and accounting departments. Missions services includes the organization’s employment services and job training services for individuals with disabilities and area residents who are disadvantaged.

Goodwill’s administrative support functions are currently based out of two buildings located at 5300 N. 118th Court in Milwaukee. Those locations, however, limit the nonprofit’s prospects for long-term expansion, Boelter said.

Goodwill’s missions services currently operate out of a building located at 200 W. Vogel Ave. in Milwaukee. The lease for that location will expire in January 2015.

The nonprofit organization plans to vacate both spaces following the purchase of the Greendale site, which has the capacity to accommodate growth in both administrative support functions and missions services.

“Because it is a sizable building, there will be room for expansion moving forward,” Boelter said.

The new location would also allow the nonprofit to carry out its “mission in action,” Boelter said.

“What we’re excited about is the fact that our administrative support folks are going to have an opportunity to see the mission in action and to see the people we serve every day,” Boelter said.

Goodwill also is in discussion with the Village of Greendale regarding paying a service agreement to the village in lieu of property taxes.

“Nothing has been finalized on that either,” Boelter said.

Boelter declined to comment on the financial terms of the proposed transaction. The property has an assessed value of $4.28 million, according to Milwaukee County records.

The Greendale Visitor Center, formerly known as the Reiman Publications Visitor Center at 5602 Broad St. in the village, is not affected by the sale of the former Reiman Publications headquarters building. The visitor center is owned by Roy Reiman.

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