Marcoux says more office buildings are coming to downtown Milwaukee

    Despite what he described as a "fairly high" vacancy rate of office space in the downtown area, new Department of City Development Commissioner Richard "Rocky" Marcoux says several developers are interested in developing new office buildings downtown. Many of the office projects being contemplated would be mixed-use developments, he said.
    The 18-story Cathedral Place building, a mixture of office and residential space developed by New Land Enterprises and Van Buren Management Inc. at 545 E. Wells St. is a recent example of a new downtown mixed-use building.
    "There’s a number of projects on the table for additional office square footage downtown," Marcoux said. "There is a feeling these vacancies will be filled."
    In his first weeks on the job, Marcoux said he has met with several developers planning downtown projects.
    "I’ve been speaking about half the time with the downtown development community and half the time with neighborhood developers," he said.
    Some city residents have complained that city neighborhoods have been overlooked in recent years while downtown attracted several developments. Mayor Tom Barrett has said improving the city’s neighborhoods is a priority of his administration.
    At the same time, Marcoux said downtown development still must continue to maintain the economic health of the entire city and the region.
    "Downtown is extremely important to the entire metro area," he said. "Every person in metropolitan Milwaukee has got to consider downtown as part of their neighborhood."
    Marcoux said his department is reviewing several proposed projects, but he declined to disclose information about any of them.
    City officials are still awaiting a formal proposal for PabstCity, the redevelopment of the Pabst Brewery on the west side of downtown. Marcoux said he has had discussions about the project with Wispark LLC, one of the project’s developers.
    "PabstCity is an incredibly exciting opportunity for the city," Marcoux said. "Because of the complexity of that development Wispark is mulling its options. Do we have a plan the mayor can comment on? No. We’re expecting one."
    Barrett and some aldermen have expressed concern about the $75 million in tax incremental financing Wispark said it needed for the project.
    "The level of subsidy required to move that forward is going to be looked at very carefully," Marcoux said.
    Barrett is examining the city’s policy for approving TIF districts.
    "Those (projects) that are requesting taxpayer subsidy will be looked at very critically in terms of the public good," Marcoux said. "This is not going to stop development or inhibit development. We’ll be issuing a policy direction shortly."
    Marcoux said he is excited about the potential for downtown to continue its renaissance. Projects such as the redevelopment of the Park East Freeway corridor and PabstCity will continue to spur development in surrounding neighborhoods, including Walkers Point, Brewers Hill, the Menomonee Valley and the Fond du Lac and North avenues area, he said.
    The downtown area should continue to attract more residents, and hopefully some families, Marcoux said. The rising downtown population has already helped attract more stores at the Shops at Grand Avenue and more bars and restaurants in the downtown area, he said. Those new amenities should help lure even more residents.
    "We hope this (downtown population) influx not only continues, but actually accelerates as more people realize downtown is an absolutely great place to be," Marcoux said.
    Menomonee Falls
    Milwaukee Western Bank plans to build a new headquarters and full-service banking center at the southeast corner of Appleton Avenue and Water Tower Place, according to village officials. Milwaukee Western Bank executive vice president Dave Davis declined to comment. The bank will build a two-story, 10,000-square-foot building on the 2.25-acre site. About 10 people are expected to work in the building. The bank plans to lease out space in the second floor temporarily and eventually grow into that space. Milwaukee Western Bank was established in 1914 and is owned by Capital Commerce Bancorp Inc. The bank’s current headquarters is at 6001 W. Capitol Drive, Milwaukee, and the bank also has a branch in Hartland.
    Goodwill Industries plans to build a 19,000-square-foot store at the southwest corner of Water Tower Place and Monarch Lane.
    Tate and Kim Boho plan to operate a bed and breakfast at N88 W16954 Main St. Tate Boho owns Design 2 Construct in Jackson.
    Don Seib plans to build an 18-hole miniature golf course south of Highway 60 and west of High Road. The project still must be approved by city officials. "Highway 60 is a fairly well-traveled highway," he said. "I just thought it would be something to add to the community." Seib owned a miniature golf course with batting cages, a driving range and a fitness center in Richfield, which he sold last year.
    Bank of Kenosha plans to open two full-service bank branches at 8056 39th Ave. and 7201 120th Ave. early in 2005. They will be the first branches built by the company besides its headquarters branch at 5117 Green Bay Road. The 39th Avenue branch will be in a 5,000-square-foot building that was formerly occupied by the Department of Motor Vehicles. The 120th Avenue branch will occupy 2,500 square feet in a strip mall being built near I-94. The branches will expand the bank’s market presence on the west and south sides of the city, Kenosha Bank president and chief executive officer Gary R. Hutchins said. Established in 2000, Kenosha Bank now has $134 million in assets. "We’ve had a great four years so far," Hutchins said.
    Concordia University recently opened an adult education center with six classrooms, a bookstore, student lounge and office space above two clothing stores and a jewelry store at 4135 N. 56th Street, in the Midtown Center development. All of Concordia University’s adult learning degrees, including management and communications, liberal arts, criminal justice and human resources management, are available at this location.
    Brookfield-based QPS Companies, Inc. recently opened a recruiting office at 3875 S. 27th St. The new office will mostly be used to recruit candidates for QPS’ office, professional and technical divisions.
    Mt. Pleasant
    Walgreens plans to build a store at the southwest corner of County Trunk Highway C and Highway 31. The Redmond Co. is the developer. The store will be built near a vacant shopping center where a Kohl’s Food Store closed last year and a Kies Pharmacy and a hardware store closed about two years ago.
    New Berlin-based Anderson-Ashton Inc. is designing and will build a 13,700-square-foot retail center and 3,450-square-foot bank, southeast of Highways 11 and 31, near Regency Mall. Leases are still being finalized with several national retailers said Brian Fisher, project manager for Anderson-Ashton. Fisher declined to disclose the name of the developer or the potential tenants. A village official said the tenants will include Bank Mutual and Qdoba Mexican Grill. A gas station and two houses will be demolished to clear space for the development.
    Richfield-based Helsan Development Co. LLC recently purchased 100 acres in the Town of Richfield to develop a business park with commercial and industrial lots. The Endeavor Business Park will be located on the south side of Highway 145, adjacent to Highway 41 and within one mile of Highway 45.
    Madison-based Anchor Bank plans to build a branch at N64 W24879 Silver Spring Dr. The project still must be approved by village officials.
    Andrew Weiland is the managing editor of Small Business Times. Send news about commercial real estate to or by calling him at (414) 277-8181 ext. 120. News can also be sent to Andrew Weiland, Small Business Times, 1123 N. Water St., Milwaukee, WI 53202.
    October 15, 2004, Small Business Times, Milwaukee, WI

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