Milwaukee developer Irgens Partners LLC confirmed the BMO Tower project in downtown Milwaukee is continuing, even after two people working on the project had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Irgens is aiming to have the building ready for occupancy starting April 17.
As with many of the construction projects in Wisconsin, work has not stopped on the BMO Tower during the viral outbreak because much the industry was deemed "essential" by state and local leaders. Other types of business have closed or severely scaled back operations due to stay-at-home mandates.
Jackie Walsh, president and chief operating officer of Irgens, said the project general contractor, Chicago-based Pepper Construction, was notified of both COVID-19 incidents in late March. However, neither Irgens nor Pepper have been informed of any new incidences of workers calling in sick with symptoms, she said.
The two cases of workers on the project with COVID-19 were first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The nearly finished 25-story glass office tower is located at 790 N. Water St. Tenants waiting to move in include BMO Harris Bank, which will have offices and a retail bank branch there, Michael Best & Friedrich, Heartland Advisors Inc. and Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP.
Walsh said that in response to the ongoing outbreak, on March 16 Pepper issued new guidance to all field personnel and that Modern Maintenance Building Services began disinfecting the common areas daily.
Pepper was notified of the first COVID-19 case on March 21. The person who contracted the virus was a subcontractor who last worked at the site on March 10 doing tenant-improvement work, Walsh said.
The job site was closed on March 22, and was cleaned "top to bottom" on March 23. Work resumed the following day, Walsh said.
The second confirmed case of COVID-19 came last week Tuesday, March 31. That worker was last at the site on March 17 doing exterior base building work, Walsh said.
In an email, Walsh said "measures have been taken to have a safe workplace." For instance, hand-washing stations have been added to every floor, and hand sanitizer and work-protocol signs also have been distributed throughout the building.
"It is a requirement that those working in the field notify their supervisor/project manager of any symptoms and that individual is to advise Pepper so that we are informed and appropriate action can be taken," Walsh said. "No one is to report to the jobsite if they are not feeling well or have symptoms."
The BMO Tower project has had some challenges. Mark Irgens, chief executive officer and manager of Irgens, noted in June that work was being accelerated on the project to ensure it would finish by December.
The completion date was pushed back to the spring following a water-supply breach in early November that caused basement flooding. Irgens then announced in January it had terminated its contract with then-general contractor J.H. Findorff & Son Inc. over concerns of the company's management of the project. Pepper was named the new general contractor.