Tenant improvements to new GRAEF HQ expected to begin Aug. 1

Firm expects to move into new digs at The Avenue in December

Rendering courtesy of GRAEF-USA Inc.

Last updated on July 26th, 2019 at 12:51 pm

Aug. 1 is when GRAEF-USA Inc. expects work to begin tenant improvement work on its new headquarters in downtown Milwaukee.

The engineering, planning and design firm will by the end of the year move its offices from the Honey Creek Corporate Center office complex on the city’s far west side to The Avenue, a new mixed-use center being developed in the former Shops of Grand Avenue mall space in Milwaukee’s Westown neighborhood.

Lori Rosenthal, vice president and principal with GRAEF, said work on the core and shell of the new office space there is well underway, and structural steel has been put up for the mezzanine portion of the GRAEF offices. Design work for the office’s interior space has also finished up, and the work has gone out to bid. Rosenthal said that GRAEF is in the process of selecting a contractor for that work and will soon name the winning bidder.

“We’re expecting to have that done within probably the next few days and get them started,” she said. “Aug. 1 is our target for that.”

The tenant improvements are then expected to wrap up in mid-December, and employees will begin packing their things around the holidays. If everything goes according to schedule, the employees will start the new year on Jan. 2 in their new downtown headquarters.

Redevelopment plans for The Avenue were unveiled last December. The project includes 190,000 square feet of office space, the first floor 3rd Street Market Hall food hall and the 52-unit Plankinton Clover apartment complex. GRAEF will occupy 35,000 square feet on the building’s third floor.

Some features of GRAEF’s new digs will include ample natural lighting, a patio overlooking Wisconsin Avenue and an internal balcony overlooking the food hall below. The space will be designed in a way that is intended to bring about more collaboration among workers, Rosenthal said.

“(Employees) might be out on the patio with their laptops, they might be up on our internal mezzanine sitting in our comfy chairs or sofas, they might be in our number of huddle spaces and collaborative spaces,” she said. “We hope this creates a more collaborative environment.”

The GRAEF offices will also offer a number of connections to the food hall below. For instance, the elevator from the food hall takes employees right up to their offices, though their floor will only be accessible by key cards. The internal balcony will also open to the atrium area, meaning employees sitting there will be exposed to the smells and sounds of the food hall.

Rosenthal said the food hall is slated to open in the spring.

GRAEF, along with other office tenants and residents of the nearby apartment complex, will also have access to building amenities such as a private fitness center and movie theater.

The Avenue’s ownership group includes Tony Janowiec of Milwaukee-based Interstate Development Partners and Josh Krsnak of Minneapolis-based Hempel Companies.

The architect for GRAEF’s office space is Valerio Dewalt Train Associates Inc., of Chicago.

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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.