See photos: Work progresses on BMO Tower as Irgens aims for spring opening

Project completion set back following November basement flooding

Looking up at BMO Tower from the 12th floor outdoor terrace
Looking up at BMO Tower from the 12th floor outdoor terrace.

Last updated on March 17th, 2020 at 01:31 pm

Following a water-supply breach that pushed back the completion of the new BMO Tower in downtown Milwaukee, project developer Irgens Partners LLC is now targeting an opening of around April or May.

The new 25-story glass office building, located at the southeast corner of Wells and Water streets, was initially scheduled to begin having tenants move in by December. But its opening was delayed to the spring as a result of the breach, which resulted in significant basement flooding.

Mark Irgens, chief executive officer and manager of Milwaukee-based Irgens Partners, said he hasn’t nailed down a specific project completion date yet until he receives information on a piece of equipment being replaced in the building.

“Once we get that information, it has to synthesize through the contractor and subcontractor,” he said.

While taking BizTimes on a tour of the in-progress construction project earlier this week, Irgens said the basement was “completely done” before the flooding event. After the flooding, crews had to rip out all the drywall and replace millions of dollars worth of equipment.

In the meantime, tenants that had planned to move in before spring have made alternative arrangements. In November, a BMO Harris spokesman said they would remain in their existing space at 770 N. Water St. until their new offices are ready.

Irgens Partners will redevelop that next-door building as a companion project to the new office tower. That project is referred to as 770 North.

The BMO Tower building is so far 55% leased. Beyond BMO, which is taking up office floors and first-floor retail space for its downtown branch, other announced tenants include Michael Best & Friedrich, Heartland Advisors Inc. and Andrus Intellectual Property Law LLP.

Irgens said the firm has 150,000 square feet worth of lease proposals out to prospective office tenants for the remaining available space in BMO Tower.

Irgens Partners has identified three spaces for potential restaurants in the two projects. One would be on the first floor of the BMO Tower, near the southwest corner of Wells Street and Broadway, the other would be located in the connector building in between the BMO Tower and 770 North, and the third would take up the first-floor 770 North space now used as the BMO retail bank branch.

Irgens said the 2,000-square-foot restaurant in the connector area would likely offer coffee, salads and sandwiches, and would be open from the morning through early afternoon. Further, the connector building would have a tenant lounge and services such as shoe shining.

The 7,800-square-foot BMO Tower restaurant space would be occupied by a high-end restaurant serving both lunch and dinner, he said.

The developer is in discussions with a potential restaurant operator for both the BMO Tower and connector building spaces, said Irgens.

A primary feature of the BMO Tower’s main lobby area will be a 28-foot-high video “wall.” The video will display imagery of historic Milwaukee buildings and scenes of nature from throughout southeastern Wisconsin, among other things.

Irgens said great attention was paid to the lobby’s design by his firm and project architect, Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater, in order to create a certain experience for workers and visitors.

“It’s really important for people to arrive in a really nice place,” he said. “So, we think about the experience they will have, they want to walk into a high-quality, but simple, well-lighted, safe space that is pleasant to be in.”

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.