Graphic Design Firm Will Buy National Avenue Building

    Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

    Ellen Homb, the owner of e & Company, a Milwaukee-based marketing and communication design firm, is purchasing a 118-year-old building that will be restored to become her company’s headquarters. Homb plans to soon close on the purchase of the two-story, 2,400-square-foot building at 641 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, for $380,000.

    She will move e & Co. there from an 1,100-square-foot office she has been renting at the Timbers in The Tannery building at 700 W. Virginia Ave., Milwaukee.

    "We outgrew this space," Homb said. "I’ll double my space (with the National Avenue building), but the nice thing is I’ll have all of the storage in the basement."

    Her company currently has to use its 1,100-square-foot space to provide workspace for its five employees and for storage. In addition to the basement storage, the National Avenue building will have space for a conference room and a reception area, which the current space does not have.

    The reception area and conference room provide amenities that will increase the professional appearance of e & Co.’s office space.

    "If we want to grow, we need to take the next step," she said.

    The company’s clients include the Milwaukee Brewers, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Marcus Corp., the Milwaukee Bucks, von Briesen & Roper and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southeast Wisconsin. Homb designs the popular game programs for the Brewers.

    When looking for a larger space, Homb wanted to keep the company

    in the Walker’s Point neighborhood.

    "I like the diversity, I like the character of the neighborhood," she said.

    She considered an office condominium in Walker’s Point, but she did not want to pay the $700 monthly condo fees, and she believed a stand-alone building would be easier to expand and easier to sell sometime down the line.

    The National Avenue building includes a 1,200-square-foot parking lot.

    The first floor of the building was used as a bar at one time. The upper floor was used as an apartment.

    Homb plans to gut the building and renovate it to create modern office space.

    "Any wall that doesn’t hold up the roof is coming down," she said.

    Homb plans to spend about $100,000 to $150,000 to renovate the building. She received a loan from Maritime Mortgage Corp. for the project.

    "I started working with the bigger banks," she said. "But then I realized I needed to work with a smaller bank that understood the importance of revitalization in the city."

    E & Co. plans to move in to the National Avenue building by Sept. 1.

    The second phase of the building renovation will be a façade restoration. Homb said she wants to make the building appear the way it did when it was originally built. She plans to apply for a pair of $5,000 façade restoration grants from the city. She plans to install new windows and remove the white paint that is covering the original red bricks.

    Homb also plans to add landscaping around the exterior of the building.

    The building is located in an area of National Avenue that Homb expects to improve during the next few years. She specifically wanted to stay east of the Interstate, because she expects that area to improve more quickly. The assessed values of buildings in the neighborhood are relatively low, but the asking prices are much higher, she said.

    The assessed value of her new building is only $71,100 according to city records.

    "Was the building overpriced?" she said. "Yes, but about a year from now it won’t be. I am looking at this as a long-term investment."

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