Law firm buys historic downtown Milwaukee riverfront building

Plans to use space to expand

The Bartels Building, 826 N. Plankinton Ave. (Photo courtesy if Loopnet.com)

Last updated on December 9th, 2022 at 11:07 am

A growing Milwaukee law firm founded by incoming Milwaukee Bar Association president Emil Ovbiagele will soon have some new digs.

A limited liability company led by Ovbiagele, managing partner at OVB Law & Consulting, S.C., fellow lawyer and law firm partner Samantha Huddleston Baker, and Ovbiagele’s wife, Natalie Ovbiagele, recently purchased the historic Bartels Building at 826 N. Plankinton Ave. in downtown Milwaukee for $1.85 million. The firm will move its office to the building.

The building was sold by a limited liability company affiliated with retired Snap-On executive, Steven K. Bartels.

Constructed in 1900, the six-story, 25,000-square-foot building, is about 75% occupied, according to Ovbiagele, with a Walgreen’s Community Pharmacy, Vivent Health, and a mix of financial services and small law firms among its tenants.

A boutique law firm serving closely held businesses with business, civil litigation, and employment law, OVB currently has its office at 839 N. Jefferson St. near Cathedral Square.

Ovbiagele said the firm started looking for new office space to expand and invest in the last year and liked what they saw in the historic Bartels Building.

“It is a very eclectic space, with a lot of personality,” he said. “It spoke to who we are, and to what we are and what we are trying to build. We are not a white walls and all-glass firm,” he said.

While the fundamentals of the building are strong, new ownership is planning on doing updates throughout the building, as well as making some more major design renovations to the sixth floor, where the firm’s offices will be. The plan is to secure a tenant for the 5th floor at least initially, but Ovbiagele said the expectation is the firm will eventually grow to take up space on that floor as well, encompassing about 8,300 square feet.

Founded in 2016, the firm currently has three lawyers. It has plans to replace an attorney who left earlier this year and add even more staff in the near term. The company also has three full-time support staff, as well as an array of rotating part-time staffers and interns.

The plan is to move into its space sometime by next spring or soon after.

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Cara covers commercial and residential real estate. She has an extensive background in local government reporting and hopes to use her experience writing about both urban and rural redevelopment to better inform readers. Cara lives in Waukesha with her husband, a teenager, a toddler, a dog named Neutron, a bird named Potter, and a lizard named Peyoye. She loves music, food, and comedy, but not necessarily in that order.

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