Master Lock considering multiple downtown sites for HQ

Company could relocate from Oak Creek

Astronautics plans to move into the former Master Lock headquarters.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:03 pm

Executives from Oak Creek-based Master Lock Co. have been touring a handful of office buildings in downtown Milwaukee considering a possible move of the company’s headquarters back to the city, according to several sources.

Master Lock lease in Oak Creek expires March 1, 2017
Master Lock’s lease in Oak Creek expires March 1, 2017

The iconic company has toured at least three sites downtown including Schlitz Park, the former Laacke & Joys site and the former Milwaukee headquarters of Extendicare Health Services at 111 W. Michigan St.

Some sources say Master Lock’s executives have zeroed in on the Extendicare site, which includes three buildings totaling about 140,000 square feet and a seven-story parking deck along the Milwaukee River. Zilber Ltd. owns the building.

Master Lock’s lease at 137 W. Forest Hill Ave., Oak Creek, expires on March 1, 2017. The company is being represented by Chris Reynolds, executive vice president of CBRE in Chicago. Bill Bonifas, with CBRE is representing them locally.

Sources say the company is looking for 80,000 to 100,000 square feet of space.

“As our global organization continues to grow and evolve, we are evaluating a variety of options for more office space in order to make the best decision for the business and our employees,” said a company spokesperson. “No decisions have been made.”

Master Lock moved its corporate headquarters from 2600 N. 32nd St. in Milwaukee to Oak Creek in 2003, moving about 180 jobs out of the city. The company kept its production facility at 2600 N. 32nd St.

Milwaukee’s Department of City Development recently sent the company a letter inviting them to move their corporate headquarters back into the city.

“For Master Lock and the city, it’s a mutual self-interest,” said Jeff Fleming, DCD spokesman. “Master Lock clearly wants to operate more efficiently and be able to attract employees and obviously the city wants to enhance its status as the center of the region’s business economy.”

Oak Creek Mayor, Steve Scaffidi, could not be reached for comment.

There are two other possibilities the company could consider, staying put in Oak Creek, or moving to another suburb. Commercial real estate industry sources say both of those options are also on the table for Master Lock. However, the company wants to attract millennials so a downtown move is desirable to its executive team.

Wangard Partners had been in talks with Master Lock as a possible anchor tenant for its office building at a development planned at the former Laacke & Joys site at 1433 N. Water St.

However, Brookfield-based Bader Rutter & Associates announced April 4 it would lease 60,000 square feet of space at the site and anchor the building, leaving only about 50,000 square feet left in the building to lease.

Master Lock is a subsidiary of Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. The company acquired Sentry Safe, in 2014.

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