Hammes Company to move HQ to downtown Milwaukee

Unveils plans for five-story building in Park East corridor.

Rendering of Hammes Co. headquarters in downtown Milwaukee

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:00 pm

Brookfield-based Hammes Company, a real estate development company that specializes in health care facilities, unveiled plans Friday for a five-story office building it plans to develop at the northeast corner of Knapp and Water Streets in downtown Milwaukee, that will be the company’s new corporate headquarters.

Phase one of the $30 million project includes the 94,000-square-foot office building, with a 360-stall parking structure that will be connected to the building along Market Street.

Hammes Co. will occupy two floors of the building, moving about 80 employees from Brookfield to Milwaukee. The space allows Hammes to grow, although Jon Hammes, company founder, did not say how many employees he plans on adding in the future.

Now that the plans have been revealed, Hammes also plans on launching a marketing campaign to recruit future tenants.

Phase two of the project, which could begin three years after phase one is completed in January 2018, could include a five- to eight-story building that would be 90,000 to 100,000 square feet.

Both buildings would be connected by a motor court fronting Cherry Street that would be the main entrance for the offices.

Hammes said he considered sites in downtown Milwaukee for three years before deciding on this location in the Park East corridor.

“We’re really excited about being part of the city,” Hammes said. “They’re on a great roll here and we really want to be a part of that chapter of Milwaukee. We’ve been hiring a number of people and find if they work in Brookfield they live in the city. We think it’s good for employees, good for business and good for recruiting.”

Hammes Co. previously requested a zoning change for the site, which has an address of 210 E. Knapp St. and is bounded by Knapp, Market and Water streets, to build an office building and parking structure.

The city Plan Commission and Zoning, Neighborhoods & Development committees will review the Hammes plans in November before the Common Council votes on them on Nov. 22. Hammes Co. is not requesting any city funding assistance for the project.

Charlottesville, Va.-based Dalgliesh Gilpin Paxton Architects, the firm that has designed several buildings at the University of Virginia, has been hired to design the project with Eppstein Uhen as the local architect.

Previously, Hammes Co. had been working on a plan to build three office buildings on the vacant area northwest of Water Street and Knapp Street. It was a complicated real estate deal with a 0.37-acre portion of the site owned by Milwaukee County, a city street running through the site and the remaining portion of the site being privately owned. The city street would have been vacated, under Hammes’ development plan. But last November, Hammes dropped its option on the privately-owned parcel, located at 1301-1357 N. Edison St., and Milwaukee-based Marcus Corp. purchased it. Baltimore, Maryland-based architectural firm InPlace Design earlier this year had renderings on its website for a 780,000-square-foot downtown development planned by Marcus at the site, which included a movie theater, housing and offices, but Marcus has not yet commented on the project.

Now with Hammes is moving forward with development plans at the northeast corner of Water and Knapp. Hammes, currently headquartered at 18000 W. Sarah Lane in Brookfield, will be the latest of a growing list of suburban companies that have decided to move their offices to downtown Milwaukee.

Fond du Lac-based Badger Liquor will move 100 office workers from West Allis to the Schlitz Park complex near downtown Milwaukee. Brookfield-based marketing firm Bader Rutter will move to the former Laacke & Joys site along the Milwaukee River next year. Decision Resources Group earlier this year signed a lease to move from its Greenfield office to the 411 E. Wisconsin building. In 2015, Plunkett Raysich Architects moved its headquarters from the far northwest side of Milwaukee to a building just south of the Historic Third Ward. In late 2014, The Dohmen Co. moved its headquarters from Menomonee Falls to the Third Ward. Schlitz Park has attracted several other companies from the suburbs including Trusted Media Brands (formerly Reader’s Digest Association Inc.), which moved its office from Greendale in 2014, bringing 200 employees to the downtown area. HSA Bank also moved from Glendale to Schlitz Park in 2014. At the former Pabst Brewery complex, office tenants are also coming from outside of downtown. SafeNet Consulting, TCF Bank and Klement Sausage all recently moved to the complex from outside of downtown Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said Hammes’s decision to relocate to Milwaukee is another sign that the business community is confident in the city of Milwaukee.

“The decision (Hammes) has made will send a signal to other businesses that this is the palace you want to be,” Barrett said.

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