Wangard to convert former Laacke & Joys building into office space

Restaurant will also be built on the property


Wauwatosa-based real estate firm Wangard Partners Inc. is planning to convert the former Laacke & Joys building in downtown Milwaukee into office space and a restaurant.

“If everything goes right, there will be a restaurant on the corner, office in the center and a future development on the site to the north,” said Stewart Wangard, chief executive officer of Wangard Partners. “We’re not there yet, but we hope to be under construction by April.”

The former Laacke & Joys building in downtown Milwaukee.
The former Laacke & Joys building in downtown Milwaukee.

Wangard made comments about the project Thursday during a presentation at the Institute of Real Estate Management Milwaukee Chapter’s annual real estate forecast breakfast. Last July, BizTimes Milwaukee first reported on Wangard’s plans to redevelop the building.

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Wangard is planning to create 106,000 square feet of office space in the building on five floors.

Wangard said an anchor tenant has been identified, but he would not release that tenant’s name.

Burton Metz, Wangard Partners vice president, said if you look at the office real estate market, it is clear class A office space is needed in Milwaukee.

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“Big blocks of spaces  are being absorbed downtown,”  Metz said. “Credit-worthy tenants want to be in an urban profile location. That’s what we’re looking to provide them.”

The Laacke & Joys site is a four-story, 64,826-square-foot, 141-year-old structure located at 1433 N.  Water St.

Laacke & Joys ended manufacturing operations in building in 2013 and closed its store there in early 2014.

The Peck family bought the Laacke & Joys property in 2012, for about $2.6 million. Wangard’s firm had a contract to purchase the property in early 2015.

The project will be one of several Wangard is working on in the area, including the Avenir apartment development on a nearby Park East corridor block.

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