Irgens to move HQ to proposed downtown office tower

Real estate development firm Irgens plans to move its corporate headquarters from Wauwatosa to the 17-story, 357,000-square-foot office building that it plans to build at 833 E. Michigan St. in downtown Milwaukee. The firm also released a video this week to show what the proposed building will look like.

Irgens has 71 employees that it would bring to the proposed building, said chief executive officer, president and manager Mark Irgens.

The firm has letters of intent from downtown law firm Godfrey & Kahn to move its headquarters to the building and from two other firms, one currently located downtown and another firm currently located “on the periphery” of downtown, Irgens said. Total pre-committed space for the building is approximately 155,000 square feet.

“We’re pre-leasing the building to 50 percent to get financing,” Irgens said. “There are four or five different financial organizations we are talking to.”

One of those financial firms is U.S. Bank, which is selling the property to Irgens. The site is currently occupied by the U.S. Bank annex parking garage.

Irgens is also seeking financial assistance from the city of Milwaukee for the project. The firm has submitted an application with the Department of City Development (DCD) for tax incremental financing (TIF), Irgens said.

“We are having ongoing discussion with the DCD,” he said.

Some aldermen are expressing concerns about providing a subsidy for a project that is primarily attracting existing downtown office tenants. Ald. Robert Bauman said Irgens is seeking about $12 million in TIF for the project. Irgens declined to disclose specifics about the firm’s TIF request.

“It’s a lot of money that’s going to create (not enough) new jobs downtown,” said Bauman, who represents the downtown area. “What is the value that is being brought to the city?”

“If you are just moving chess pieces around the board you are not adding much value,” said Ald. Michael Murphy.

But Irgens said the tenants moving to the building need more space and plan to add more jobs after they relocate. The two unnamed firms committed to the project plan to add a total of 40 jobs and the building will also provide space that Godfrey & Kahn needs to expand, he said. The building could also provide space for firms currently located in the nearby U.S. Bank Center, which is nearly full, to expand, Irgens said.

Irgens also released a video this week to show what the proposed 833 East Michigan building will look like. The video shows the exterior and interior appearance of the building, designed by Milwaukee architectural firm Kahler Slater, and also shows the views that tenants will have from the building.

The video does not show how The Couture, a proposed 44-story residential and hotel building that Barrett Visionary Development plans to build at the site of the Milwaukee County Downtown Transit Center, would impact those views. However, Irgens said The Couture would be a much narrower building that would have a minimal impact on views of the lakefront from 833 East Michigan. Also, the Couture tower would be 240 feet away from the 833 East Michigan building, farther away than the U.S. Bank Center, which would be about 140 feet away from the 833 East Michigan building, Irgens said.

“You still have a 180-degree view except for this narrow tower that is 240 feet away,” he said. “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

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