Second building acquired for Global Water Center

Global Water Center II LLC, an affiliate of Milwaukee-based real estate development firm HKS Holdings LLC and the Global Water Center, recently purchased a 121-year-old industrial building at 326-332 W. Florida St. for $950,000, according to state records.

The property, which consists of a two-story building attached to a five-story building, will provide additional space for tenants of the nearby Global Water Center, located in a renovated seven-story, 98,000-square-foot former warehouse building at 247 W. Freshwater Way.

“It will be an extension of what’s going on here in the first building because we are literally filled up and cramming people in,” said Dean Amhaus, president and chief executive officer of The Water Council. “We realized we needed to continue to expand to meet the growth needs, so we’ve gone ahead with the purchase of that building on Florida.”

Scheduled to open in late summer or fall of 2016, the 46,600-square-foot building is located between the Brix Apartment Lofts development at 408 W. Florida St. and the 234 W. Florida St. office building. Amhaus said he estimates the building will require several millions of dollars in renovations.

Plans are still in the works for the building, but Amhaus said it may boast an open area called the Oasis, where companies can rent out space on a short-term basis.

“We’ve been getting a lot of interest globally from people who want to come here to be part of the cluster,” he said. “These are entities looking to get into the U.S. We would position Milwaukee as their landing zone to spread out across the rest of the country. A lot of these are small business entrepreneurs that don’t want a year-long commitment.”

In addition to new businesses, Amhaus said he anticipates tenants from the Global Water Center who are running out of space to move into the new building.

The building at 326-332 W. Florida St. has an assessed value of $693,000, according to city records. It was sold by Appleton-based U.S. Oil Co. Inc.

The $22 million project to create the Global Water Center was completed in 2013. The building provides office space, laboratories and other facilities for businesses, universities and start-up firms involved in water technology. Tenants in the global water center include Badger Meter Inc., A.O. Smith Corp., the corporate headquarters for Rexnord Corp., and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Freshwater Sciences.

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