Schlitz Park is moving into the third and final phase of its $35-40 million renovation project, which it began last year.
The Executive and Stockhouse buildings, located along North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the former Schlitz brewery turned office complex just north of downtown Milwaukee, will be renovated. Construction is expected to begin by the end of this year and be complete in late 2013.
Combined, the two buildings have 150,000 square feet of office space. The buildings were previously occupied by the Milwaukee County Department of Aging, but have been vacant for about six years.
Also, a 200,000-square-foot Schlitz Park building, located north of the Executive and Stockhouse building along King Drive, which is owned by Milwaukee Public Schools and has been vacant for about four years, will be reopened this fall for 6-8 grade classes as MPS begins to expand Golda Meir School across the street and will eventually establish a middle and high school in Schlitz Park for Golda Meir students.
“This whole part of Schlitz (Park along King Drive) is about to re-awaken,” said Schlitz Park developer Gary Grunau. “It’s been asleep for five years, but it’s coming back now.”
In addition, the former Brewhouse building in the middle of the Schlitz Park complex will be torn down and a one-acre park will be created in its place. Utility rerouting for the project is underway.
“We’ve looked at things to do for the Brewhouse (building) for 29 years,” Grunau said. “It just cannot be renovated. It’s unfortunate.”
Schlitz Park also plans to seek tax incremental financing (TIF) from the city of extend Galena Street from King Drive into the complex and to improve North Second Street through the complex. Schlitz Park plans to establish a pedestrian connection from King Drive through the complex to the Riverwalk along the Milwaukee River.
Work began last year on renovations to the Schlitz Park complex. So far, in the first two phases of the renovation project, 105,000 square feet of tenant and common areas have been renovated and additional conference space and fitness centers have been added.
“It’s been an exciting year,” said Grunau. “We think we’ve had really good success and interest (from tenants) in the first two phases (of the renovations). Everything we hoped would happen a year ago is happening. We think we have a buzz in the marketplace right now.”
New tenants that Schlitz Park has added this year include AECOM Technology Corp. and Corvisa Services LLC. Schlitz Park is talking to another 6-7 potential tenants right now, Grunau said.
“We’ve added (tenants with) well over 250 jobs in the last year,” he said. “We have some nice (potential) tenants on the line to add a lot more jobs.”
Currently about 4,300 people work in the Schlitz Park complex.
Only about 26,000 square feet of the 380,000 square feet of office space in the RiverCenter building at Schlitz Park is available. The 50,000-square-foot Keg House building is fully occupied. The Bottlehouse buildings have been connected and have a combined 140,000 square feet of space. The Bottlehouse B building is full and the Bottlehouse A building has about 70,000 square feet of vacant space.
“We’ve got activity and interest in the whole 70,000 square feet (in the Bottlehouse A building),” Grunau said. “There seems to be a lot of activity right now. There are a lot of people out there. There is more interest than there has been in five years, at least before the (Great Recession).”
Long term Schlitz Park could build additional buildings on surface parking areas of the complex, if an additional parking structure was added, Grunau said. The Schlitz Park developers are often asked about development possibilities for the surface parking area just southwest of the Milwaukee River and East Pleasant Street, he said.
In addition, Schlitz Park has evaluated future plans to add up to four floors of office space on top of the RiverCenter building, Grunau said.
However, for now the focus at Schlitz Park remains on the existing space, he said.
“Right now we’ve got to fill up what we’ve got and go from there,” Grunau said.