Western Building Products considering three sites to move its operations, including Milwaukee’s far northwest side

Company has outgrown Wauwatosa facility, looking to move 200 jobs

Western Building Products' old facility in Wauwatosa.
Western Building Products' old facility in Wauwatosa.

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:47 pm

Wauwatosa-based Western Building Products Inc. is eyeing three sites where it would relocate its business and 200 employees, with possibilities including an undeveloped site on Milwaukee’s far northwest side.

Western Building Products’ current facility in Wauwatosa.

The distributor of millwork products currently operates out of a facility at 1300 Glenview Place in Wauwatosa, near the Wauwatosa Village area. However, the company has outgrown that facility, said Bill Zacher, recovery manager with Western.

“We cannot expand anymore on the current site,” he said.

Zacher confirmed with BizTimes that the company is down to three final locations, and that the company is looking to build a roughly 300,000-square-foot facility, but cautioned that nothing has been made final.

An application recently filed with the city of Milwaukee shows one of the three possibilities for Western Building Products is at 7007 N. 115th St. Also known as the Joy Farms site, the vacant commercial land is just south of where North 115th Street meets Good Hope Road.

The two other locations being considered by the company are in outlying areas outside of Milwaukee, said Zacher.

Zacher added that the company is hoping to finalize its plans and select a site within the next few weeks.

If the Joy Farms site is eventually selected, it would require a zoning change as well as the installation of sewer and other utilities in order for the company to construct its new facility there. Western has held neighborhood meetings on the proposal and also discussed its options with a number of city officials, including the Department of City Development and Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd.

Jeff Fleming, a spokesman with DCD, confirmed the department has been in talks about the proposed project but did not provide further details.

“We have been in discussions with Western Building Products, but it would be premature to publicly share specifics of possible city involvement,” Fleming wrote in an email.

Zacher said if the company moves forward with this particular site, it would likely seek assistance from the city through tax increment financing. He added that the other major challenge is winning over nearby residents, who have not exactly received the project warmly so far.

“There’s still a lot in the air,” he said about Western’s relocation plans. “I’ve been working on this thing a long time and I think we’re making progress. We’re down to the final hurdles, but they’re significant hurdles.”

The northwest Milwaukee site is just southwest of the Interstate 41 interchange with Good Hope Road, offering vehicles easy access to the freeway. Walmart previously considered building a Sam’s Club store there, but ultimately dropped that proposal.

Located just west of there is the Woodland Prime business park in Menomonee Falls, where Leonardo DRS inc. has plans to move its operations from 4265 N. 30th St. in Milwaukee to a new 350,000-square-foot industrial building at the northwest corner of Flint Drive and Good Hope Road.

Western’s existing facility in Wauwatosa is located on a roughly 9.9-acre parcel just northwest of where Harwood Avenue meets Menomonee Avenue. Railroad tracks border the property to the north. Properties to the south, located between the facility and Harwood Avenue, include shops such as Stone Creek Coffee and residential buildings such as the Harwood Place retirement community and Wilshire Manor apartments.

Western, an employee-owned company that started business in 1946 on West State Street in Milwaukee, is one of the largest distributors of millwork products in the Midwest, according to the company’s website. Its product inventories include a wide assortment of mouldings, stair parts, windows, columns and interior, fire-rated doors. Additionally, the company brands and sells its own exterior door systems.

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