Milwaukee Tool buys land for massive Menomonee Falls campus

Company expects spring construction start on first new building

Ty Staviski, Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp., Gov. Tony Evers, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, Tom Metcalfe, president of We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service and M7 representative; Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary; and Mark Fitzgerald, Menomonee Falls village manager, shoveling dirt after Milwaukee Tool's announcement of its $100 million Menomonee Falls campus.

Last updated on January 6th, 2020 at 12:31 pm

Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. has closed on the acquisition of 71 acres in Menomonee Falls, where the company plans to develop a massive multi-purpose campus that could reach up to 2.5 million square feet.

The company has broadly identified plans for nearly 700,000 square feet worth of facilities, according to a development agreement with the village.

According to state records, the transactions include a 14-acre parcel Milwaukee Tool bought for nearly $855,000 from an affiliate of Milwaukee-based Zilber Ltd. The company also acquired two village-owned parcels totaling 57 acres for $1, but have a combined value of roughly $3.77 million.

The land is located in the Woodland Prime office park, at the end of Flint Drive north of where it meets Good Hope Road.

Milwaukee Tool purchased the properties through an affiliate, Schwer, Pflicht & Werkzeug Properties LLC. Milwaukee Tool used the same entity to acquire an existing Woodland Prime office building earlier this year for $4.7 million. That building, located at W127N7564 Flint Drive, is being renovated and makes up the first phase of the company’s development plans in Menomonee Falls.

The company closed on the properties late last week, and the state posted records of the transactions online earlier this week.

Company officials unveiled last week its plans for a $107.5 million investment in Wisconsin that would result in 870 new jobs. Of that, $100 million would go toward developing the 65-acre campus in Menomonee Falls, which would result in 770 new jobs by 2025. The remainder would go toward an expansion in Sun Prairie that would yield 100 new jobs within that time period.

The project is benefiting from incentives by both the village and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.

According to a project development agreement with the village, Milwaukee Tool will complete its initial development in three phases.

First, the company will construct an industrial office building totaling 240,000 on the formerly Zilber-owned property. This includes a 120,000-square-foot building footprint and 120,000-square-foot mezzanine. The building would be used for things such as research and development and prototyping, and would also have a welcome center.

It was previously thought the building would total 120,000 square feet, based on records filed this fall with the state Department of Natural Resources.

A Milwaukee Tool spokeswoman said the company plans to break ground on the building in the spring. Further, the existing building that’s already undergoing renovations is slated to open in the first quarter of 2020.

Phase two then includes an office building totaling at least 300,000 square feet on a portion of the formerly village-owned property. In phase three, Milwaukee Tool will develop on the village-owned site additional buildings for office, R&D and/or industrial uses. It would include at least one 100,000-square-foot office building.

Village officials agreed to sell the village-owned land to Milwaukee Tool as part of the development agreement that was approved late last week by the Village Board.

The development agreement includes other project incentives. Per the agreement, the village will also return to the company 70% of tax increment generated by the project annually.

The village also plans to use some of the new tax increment to finance an extension of Flint Drive that would eventually reach Fond du Lac Avenue to the north.

Mark Fitzgerald, Menomonee Falls village manager, said the agreement is set up in a way that grants Milwaukee Tool maximum flexibility for developing its new campus. For instance, the agreement calls for the village to construct a 300-foot extension of Flint Drive once the company develops the second phase of its project. The extension will be fully built once phase three occurs. This set-up is an alternative to a specific timeline for the street extension.

“We based the development agreement more on triggers and less on timeframes,” Fitzgerald said.

The village owns another roughly 3.8 acres that Milwaukee Tool could also acquire for $1. The land would need to be acquired by the end of February.

WEDC is supporting the latest expansion from Milwaukee Tool with up to $20 million in tax credits. According to a WEDC staff review, the company picked Menomonee Falls over open capacity at its parent company’s South Carolina operations.

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Arthur Thomas
Arthur covers manufacturing for BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.