Quarles & Brady in the market for downtown office space

Downtown Milwaukee law firm Quarles & Brady LLP, the anchor tenant of the 411 Building at 411 E. Wisconsin Ave., is in the market for downtown office space and could move to one of the proposed new buildings that developers are planning in the downtown area.

“While Quarles & Brady is committed to remaining in the east downtown business district, we also believe this is a good time to weigh our options, taking into account economic factors,” said Ann Murphy, managing partner for the firm’s Milwaukee office. “First and foremost, Quarles & Brady is interested in securing space that will allow us to continue to provide the best possible client service, whether we decide to stay or move. We desire space that has all of the amenities that currently exist at 411, but is also designed for sustainability and energy efficiency, and can accommodate our technology needs for the future.”

Quarles & Brady has been the anchor tenant of the 411 Building since 1986. The firm currently occupies about 186,000 square feet of space in the building, on eight floors, and has a sign on top of the building. The firm has 200 employees plus additional staff in the building.

The 30-story 411 Building has a total of 654,000 square feet of space and a vacancy rate of 18.33 percent, according to Xceligent.

Quarles & Brady has issued an RFP to “several” office building developers for about 150,000 to 175,000 square feet of downtown office space, Murphy said. At that size the firm is the largest tenant currently in the market for downtown office space, one source said. No other class A office buildings downtown have that much available space, so the firm’s only options are to stay put at the 411 Building or move to a yet-to-be-constructed building.

The firm’s 10-year lease in the 411 Building expires in 2015. However, it would take at least two years for a developer to plan and build a new downtown office tower so the firm needs to plan ahead if it wants to consider moving to a new building.

Quarles & Brady’s office space requirement is about the same as Godfrey & Kahn’s and Baker Tilly Virchow Krause’s combined space needs. Baker Tilly recently signed a lease to move to the U.S. Bank Center at 777 E. Wisconsin Ave. after previously considering plans to move to the proposed Washington Square development proposed by Van Buren Management Inc. owner Joel Lee east of the Pfister Hotel. Godfrey & Kahn had also planned to move to Washington Square under a joint venture development plan with Irgens. Now Irgens is in negotiations with U.S. Bank to build an office building, which could be anchored by Godfrey & Kahn, at the site of the U.S. Bank Center’s annex parking structure.

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