Milwaukee aldermen approve Western Building Products HQ plans

New facility to be built at Joy Farms site on city's far northwest side

A rendering of the Western Building Products headquarters, courtesy of Briohn Building Corp.

Last updated on July 31st, 2019 at 01:32 pm

The Milwaukee Common Council has approved plans related to the proposed new headquarters for Western Building Products.

The Wauwatosa-based distributor of millwork products plans to move its operations to a new facility it would build at 7007 N. 115th St., at a location known as the Joy Farms site on the city’s far northwest side. BizTimes reported this spring the company was considering the 28-acre undeveloped site as one of three possible locations to relocate its business.

According to city documents, Western plans to build a roughly 326,600-square-foot warehouse and office building. The estimated project budget is $18 million.

Council members approved both a zoning change and $2.54 million in city financing assistance related to the project.

“I have been on the record supporting Western Building Products and their initiative because I believe they are a good company,” Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, whose district includes the project site, said on Tuesday during the Common Council meeting. “They are a good representative for the city of Milwaukee, they’re actually moving from Wauwatosa and bringing their business.”

Dodd said the Joy Farms site was once a horse farm, and is currently used by We Energies to store vehicles.

The project was opposed by a number of residents who lived nearby the Joy Farms site, who raised concerns ranging from environmental issues related to runoff to the amount of truck traffic the business would bring.

The $2.54 million in city financing includes $2.2 million for installation of new sewer main and $250,000 for installation of city water main. Another $90,000 would go toward administrative costs. The proposed financing will still need Joint Review Board approval.

Bill Zacher, recovery manager with Western, said in an email that following that final approval, the company should close on the land purchase in late August or early September. Grading for the foundations should begin late September or early October, and precast concrete panels will go up before winter sets in.

“If all goes well, we could be looking at moving to the new facility sometime late summer or early fall of next year,” he said.

Zacher told BizTimes this spring the company has outgrown its current facility in Wauwatosa and was looking for a place where it could expand.

Once the building is finished, Western will move its 200 employees there and eventually add another 25-30 jobs.

According to development plans filed with the city, the building would consist of a 300,000-square-foot shop and warehouse area and 26,600 square feet of office. The offices would be built toward the front entrance on the east side of the building, facing North 115th Street. The loading dock area will be placed on the west side of the building. It will have the capacity for up to 42 docks.

Western is an employee-owned company that has operated in Wauwatosa since 1946. It distributes products including moldings, doors and stair parts to customers in the construction, commercial and remodeling markets.

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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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