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Schlitz Park developer Gary Grunau recently announced plans for a $76 million, multi-phase, mixed-use expansion he says will add 290,000 square feet of office space, a 142-room hotel and 140 apartments to the complex just north of downtown Milwaukee over the next five years.

The first phase of the Schlitz Park expansion will be a conversion of 50,000 square feet of warehouse space, formerly occupied by Assurant Health, in the Schlitz Park Rivercenter building into office space. The second phase would convert some existing space and add a four-story addition to the Powerhouse building, which would create an additional 80,000 square feet of office space. Schlitz Park also plans to build a four-story, 160,000-square-foot office space expansion on top of the four-story Rivercenter building, add a hotel along the Milwaukee River between the ManpowerGroup corporate headquarters and the Time Warner Cable building, and develop apartments on a vacant site north of Pleasant Street between North First and Second streets.

Schlitz Park plans to add more office space, a hotel and apartments in a $76 million, multi-phase expansion plan over the next five years.

The Schlitz Park plans add momentum to one of the hottest development areas in the region. Just east of Schlitz Park, on the other side of the Milwaukee River, is the North Water Street corridor, which is booming with new apartment developments. Just to the southwest of Schlitz Park is where the new $500 million arena is planned for the Milwaukee Bucks. The owners of the Bucks also plan to build an additional $500 million in ancillary development around the arena.

The plans for the arena, and a possible extension of the downtown Milwaukee streetcar project north along Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, is leading to increased interest in potential tenants for Schlitz Park’s office space, Grunau said.

Grunau isn’t the only developer with eyes on the arena project. WiRED Properties and Phelan Development plan to convert the National Ace Hardware property at 1303 N. Fourth St. into a “community based retail and office redevelopment.” They plan to do a complete historic restoration to create 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of office space and 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of retail space.

Across the river from Schlitz Park, Wangard Partners Inc. has a contract to purchase the former Laacke & Joys property at 1433 N. Water St. and is working on a redevelopment project for the site, said Stewart Wangard, chairman and chief executive officer. The redevelopment project could include office, retail and restaurant space, he said. The company is marketing the property to potential tenants.

The first priority of the project is to restore the historic former Laacke & Joys building, a four-story 64,826-square-foot, 141-year-old structure. Wangard said his firm is in talks with multiple potential tenants for the building.

The Wangard project at the site could also include new buildings on either side of the former Laacke & Joys building. A warehouse northeast of the building will be demolished to create a site that could accommodate a 200,000-square-foot building, Wangard said. The 6,000-square-foot Peck garage located to the southwest of the former Laacke & Joys building could be converted to a restaurant. Otherwise, the Peck garage building could be demolished and a high rise, with perhaps 200,000 to 400,000 square feet of space, could be built on the site, Wangard said.

The arena and other nearby projects have increased the interest in potential tenants for the Laacke & Joys site, Wangard said.

“Milwaukee is on a roll,” he said. “A lot of office users are considering downtown. There is momentum building.”

Grunau agrees. Betting on national trends of more people and businesses moving to downtown areas, The Brewery Works Inc., which owns Schlitz Park, invested $62 million in improvements to the 46-acre Schlitz Park campus from 2011-’14 and increased the occupancy of its 1.2 million square feet of space from 67 percent in 2010 to 98 percent in 2015. Grunau expects the trend of businesses moving downtown to continue, and said Schlitz Park needs to provide more office space to accommodate those tenants. “Someone has to provide the office space for the jobs,” he said.

View the full article as recently posted on the BizTimes website.

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