Milwaukee Post Office sold to Chicago developer

Redevelopment will take place after post office lease expires

Downtown Post OfficeThe Milwaukee Post Office sold to a Chicago-based investor and developer for $13.1 million who is planning a mixed-use development for the property once the post office’s lease is up.

The 1.1 million-square-foot, four-story post office, located at 341 W. St. Paul Ave., was sold to R2 Companies. The property was owned by a Menomonee RP LLC, a group of private investors based in Wauwatosa.

Kurt Van Dyke and Jim Young of The Barry Company worked as the principal brokers in the transaction.  The Barry Company said there were several offers on the property – all from out-of-state developers wanting to move to Wisconsin.

“This is one of the largest investment/development transactions in southeast Wisconsin in 2015, and indicates the continued interest in the downtown Milwaukee market,” Young said.

Redevelopment of the 48-year-old post office will have to wait until the post office’s lease expires. The current lease is still in place for four years and eight months with an option to extend for up to 30 years, Van Dyke said.

Matt Garrison, managing principal of R2 Companies, said he knows it will be several years before the property can be redeveloped, but the site and the surrounding neighborhoods make it worth the wait.

The property has approximately 1,500 feet of frontage on the Menomonee River.

“We’re planning adaptive reuse of the existing building,” Garrison said. “Some might think it’s barren with a lot of concrete, but with some glass, light and green elements, we can make it special. We want to activate the riverfront and do a large, mixed-use project that connects the Third Ward, downtown, Westside and Harley Museum.”

R2 is working with Gensler, a San Francisco-based architectural firm, on a feasibility plan for the building. Gensler’s previous projects include the Facebook headquarters, Johns Hopkins Medicine International, Shanghai Tower and the San Francisco International Airport.

“We know we have to be patient and ultimately good stewards of this property right now,” Garrison said. “We’re willing to wait a long time – this is such a special site, if you’re lucky, you get one or two shots for a property like this in your career.”

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