Ready to rise

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 11:00 am

A 14-story mixed-use building under construction at the southeast corner of Juneau Avenue and Water Street in downtown Milwaukee will be one of the first high-rise buildings to use a new precast truss building system. The system shortens construction time considerably and allows for more flexibility in the use of the interior space in the building. It also improves soundproofing and fire protection for the building.

The system, called the ER Post Structural System, was developed and patented by Minneapolis-based Ericksen Roed & Associates. For the Milwaukee project, the system is being manufactured by Waukesha-based Spancrete Group Inc. Specific building applications are custom-designed and produced by Spancrete through a marketing agreement with Ericksen Roed.

The developer for the Milwaukee project is Fort Myers, Fla.-based Development Opportunity Corp. (DOC), which is building the $20 million, structure. The building will have a 128-room Staybridge Suites hotel, 31 condos and 14,000 square feet of retail space. DOC hired Park Ridge, Ill.-based Economou Partners, a design build firm, as architect and general contractor for the project.

“This will be one of the tallest buildings with this type of design,” said Paul Grimes, director of design for Economou Partners. “This truss system is fairly new, especially in a high rise building like this. There are only one or two other high rise buildings that have used it.”

The construction project began in May, and so far, crews on the site have been focused on drilling holes for large caissons. The building will sit on 45 to 46 caissons, Grimes said.

“It’s a lengthy process, because most of the caissons are five to six feet in diameter and we have to drill down about 100 feet,” he said. “There’s a layer of hardpan about 58 to 75 feet down that we have to drill through that is pretty hard.”

After the caissons are in place, construction of the building structure will begin in mid-September.

“That will go fast,” Grimes said. “One of the advantages of building a precast building is the erection time is half.”

It will take less than 100 days to put up the entire precast structure, Grimes said.

Once part of the precast structure is in place, crews will start to install the glass windows. The building will feature floor-to-ceiling windows.

“The glass people will follow right behind,” Grimes said. “The glass and precast will be going up simultaneously.”

The precast structure will provide clear spans of 75 feet, higher ceilings and more flexibility in designing the space inside. The system provides column-free spans, which is what allows for the increased construction flexibility. The new truss system has unlimited floor layout possibilities and is intended for use in multi-family housing, office space and hotels.

In addition, the structure can handle heavier loads, which allows for the 10-foot ceilings that will be a feature in the building.

“That gives it a really open space feel,” Grimes said.

Work on the precast structure began in November, before the design of the building was finalized, Grimes said, which sped up the process of preparing the structure for the building.

“Once I had a conceptual design, I went to Spancrete and they did it as a design-build,” Grime said.

The construction project is expected to be complete next summer.

So far, three of the 31 condominiums have been sold, said Lisa Aldrich, real estate broker for DOC Realty LLC and general manager for the Staybridge Suites and DOC Hospitality Milwaukee LLC.

The price for the condos ranges between $234,000 and $2.3 million. The largest unit is a two-story, 3,600-square-foot penthouse that will have a 2,400-square-foot, private, rooftop park with views of the downtown skyline.

The smallest unit will have 757 square feet of space.

The project is the first that Economou Partners has done in Milwaukee. The firm has done projects throughout the United States and handles all of the projects for DOC. It previously was just a design firm, but added construction to its service portfolio last year.

“It gives us more control over the design and over costs and speeds up the construction time for our clients,” Grimes said.


@ a glance

Developer: Development Opportunity Corp. (
Location: Southeast corner of  Juneau Avenue and Water Street, downtown Milwaukee
Hotel: 128-room Staybridge Suites
Condos: The Residences on Water ( 31 units, price range $234,000 to $2.3 million, size 757 to 3,600 square feet
Retail space: 14,000 square feet
Architect & general contractor: Economou Partners (
Completion date: Summer, 2008

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