Marketing agency to move its office to historic church in Walker’s Point

Northern Ground plans October move-in following renovations

Photo courtesy of Northern Ground
Photo courtesy of Northern Ground

Last updated on July 1st, 2020 at 12:24 pm

Milwaukee-based digital marketing firm Northern Ground has purchased a historic former church in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, where it plans to move its office this fall.

Northern Ground acquired the church, 202 W. Scott St., and combined lots recently for about $1.23 million. The building is located across the street from the Rockwell Automation corporate headquarters. The company plans to move into the space in October, according to a news release.

The firm will be moving to Walker’s Point from its current offices at the Blatz complex at 260 E. Highland Ave. in downtown Milwaukee.

Renovations to the former church building will be made prior to move-in. The work includes accessibility improvements, increasing usable square footage, new work stations and adding bathrooms and mechanical systems. The increase in square footage will be achieved through conversion of the garage space into reception and meeting areas.

The finished space will cover about 9,500 square feet across three levels, and the building includes a 1,450-square-foot rooftop deck.

Planned exterior work includes new commercial windows, glass garage doors, landscaping, entry sequence and lighting.

“The building will offer collaboration spaces for our customers and more options to spread staff out to accommodate distancing,” Ryan Janecek, Northern Ground co-founder and strategy lead, said in a statement. “We’re making the building accessible, which is something that we focus on throughout our project work. Its combination of old Milwaukee bones and modernism aligns with our work style.”

The church was built in 1882 in the Gothic Revival style. It was quickly outgrown by its congregation, the Scandinavian Evangelicals, and was then used as a chocolate factory and storage space, according to a news release.

It was most recently used as a live/work space by its previous owner, Eric Barthenheier of Barthenheier Construction Inc., who spent six years fully renovating the building.

Barthenheier Construction will perform additional improvement work for Northern Ground. Dan Katt of Craft MKE is a project consultant and Jon Van Rooy is serving as project architect.

“The world has changed a lot in the last three months but we’ve been under contract since January,” Jay Beckman, Northern Ground co-founder and creative director, said in a statement. “I used to live in Walker’s Point and am excited to return to its thriving food and art scene. We’re anxious to put our stamp on the building and add to this special Milwaukee neighborhood.”

Shaun Dempsey with Transwestern represented Northern Ground in the deal. Brett Deter and John Davis of Founders 3 represented the seller.

Northern Ground is a digital studio offering strategy, user-experience planning, design and code development for advanced consumer brands and business clients. It was founded in 2012 by Janacek, Beckman and Matt Retzer.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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