UMB lease kick-starts Schlitz Park

UMB Fund Services has signed a lease for 88,000 square feet of office space at the Schlitz Park office complex in downtown Milwaukee and will move there next year from its current downtown location at 803 W. Michigan St., owned by Zilber Property Group, executives with Schlitz Park and UMB announced Tuesday. UMB has signed a 10-year lease at Schlitz Park.

UMB will occupy the entire two-story Executive Building at Schlitz Park and three floors of the seven-story Stockhouse Building. The move will be complete in April. A wholly owned subsidiary of Kansas City-based UMB Financial Corp., UMB Fund Services has 250 employees in Milwaukee and plans to add another 100 in the next 3-4 years, chief executive officer John Zader said.

The two buildings were occupied by Milwaukee County offices until late 2005, and have been vacant ever since.

The addition of UMB allows Schlitz Park to begin a $22 million project that will include upgrades to the two buildings and the demolition of the former Brewhouse Building, which will be replaced with a one-acre public park, said Schlitz Park developer Gary Grunau. It would not be feasible to redevelop the Brewhouse Building, Grunau said.

Several historical architectural artifacts will be saved from the Brewhouse Building and used in the park and in Schlitz Park buildings, Grunau said.

Financing for the project will be provided by Associated Bank, he said.

The removal of the Brewhouse Building was also necessary to make redevelopment of the Stockhouse Building feasible, Grunau said. The buildings are located next to each other and the Brewhouse Building blocks views to the east for the Stockhouse Building, which will now have large glass windows on that side facing the park. The building will also have a new entrance facing the park.

Also critical to the redevelopment of the Executive Center and Stockhouse Building is the planned reopening of Galena Street as a public street through the former Schlitz brewery complex. Galena Street will be a one-way street heading east through the complex. The upgrades to Galena Street will be paid for with $1.7 million in tax incremental financing (TIF) from the city.

“We came to the conclusion that without getting the Brewhouse down and Galena Street re-opened we would never lease the (Stockhouse) building,” Grunau said.

This is the third phase of $35 million-$40 million in renovations at Schlitz Park, which now has 1.2 million square feet of space and 200,000 square feet of available space. In the first two phases of renovations 105,000 square feet of tenant and common areas were renovated and additional conference space and fitness centers were added. About 4,300 people work at the Schlitz Park complex.

The Executive Building and Stockhouse Building will have a total of 150,000 square feet of space, including the 88,000 square feet leased by UMB. The Stockhouse Building has 54,000 square feet of available space and the Bottlehosue A building has 60,000 square feet of available space. Those two buildings have the bulk of Schlitz Park’s 200,000 square feet of available space, which matches recent new leasing activity.

“We’ve leased 200,000 square feet at Schlitz in the last 18 months,” Grunau said. He said additional tenant announcements are expected by the end of the year.

“We’re about to reawaken all of Schlitz Park,” Grunau said.

Zader said that UMB needed additional space to accommodate its growth for the next 10 years and was attracted to the amenities at Schlitz Park, including free parking and a planned fitness center that will be added to the Stockhouse Building.

“This was not our cheapest option,” he said.

UMB was also attracted to Schlitz Park’s location along the Milwaukee River and closer to nightlife areas such as Water Street and entertainment venues such as the Bradley Center. The Michigan Street building, where it had about 70,000 square feet of space, is in a neighborhood with numerous vacant lots, especially after the reconstruction of the Marquette Interchange, that have no activity and an uncertain future.

“We have a younger demographic workforce,” he said. “This is just a much better location for them. Our people, when they found out where we were moving, were very excited.”

The Brown Bottle bar and restaurant in the Executive Center building will be re-opened with a new concept, Grunau said. However no operator is in place yet for the Brown Bottle. It was changed into Libiamo, an Italian restaurant, which closed about a year and a half ago.

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