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Business Report: Wisconsin Spurs Milwaukee Redevelopment With Brownfield Grants

By Johnathan Sanders
From the May/June 2014 issue

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) has announced it has awarded nearly $1.4 million in brownfield grants to four major redevelopment projects in the City of Milwaukee.

WEDC’s Brownfield Grant Program provides funding to assist local governments, businesses and individuals with assessing and remediating the environmental contamination of an abandoned, idle or underused industrial or commercial facility or site.

The grants awarded are:

  • 833 Development Partners, an affiliate of Irgens Partners LLC, will receive a $495,213 grant as the company plans to redevelop a 1-acre contaminated property at 815 E. Michigan St. The company plans to spend $6.3 million to abate, demolish and remediate an existing structure near Milwaukee’s lakefront. Construction of a 17-story, 358,000-square-foot $105 million office building, called 833 East, is expected to begin on the site in May. The project is part of the Milwaukee Lakefront Development Plan.
  • Blue Ribbon Management LLC has been awarded a $153,000 grant to help pay for environmental remediation activities related to the construction of an office building on a contaminated vacant parcel in the former Pabst Brewing Co. site on Juneau Avenue. The five-story, 73,100-square-foot Pabst Professional Center has a $10 million to $12 million price tag, and is expected to be completed in June.
  • The Brewery Works Inc., the developer of Schlitz Park, has received a $500,000 grant for remediation and demolition costs related to the latest renovation at the former Schlitz Brewing site on West Galena Street. The $22 million project includes removal of contaminated soils, demolition of the obsolete Schlitz Brewhouse, and the redevelopment of Schlitz Park’s Executive Building. The Executive Building will be the new headquarters for UMB Fund Services Inc., which is leasing 88,000 square feet there. The company has about 250 employees.
  • Complete Warehouse and Distribution LLC has been awarded $238,700 for remediation, monitoring and demolition costs associated with the redevelopment of the former Super Steel property at 7100 W. Calumet Road. The 28-acre parcel, which was once a metal fabrication facility, has been vacant since 2011. Complete Warehouse plans to clean up the environmental contamination at the site, redevelop the manufacturing facility and lease it to tenants. Complete Warehouse also is receiving a Wisconsin Assessment Monies award under the Department of Natural Resources’ Brownfields Program. The DNR award will fully fund site investigation services to determine the extent of contamination in nearby groundwater and soil. Such investigations typically cost between $25,000 and $45,000.

Reed Hall, secretary and CEO of WEDC, said the Brownfield Grant Program is just one element of the organization’s overall strategy to help boost economic development in the City of Milwaukee. Since July 2013, WEDC, the state’s lead economic development organization, has provided more than $20 million tax credits, grants, loans and other awards to Milwaukee businesses and organizations.

Milwaukee Tom BarrettWEDC is a key partner in the Global Water Center, a $22 million project that has helped revitalize the city’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. In December, WEDC awarded Milwaukee a $1 million grant to help fund the Century City redevelopment project at the former Tower Automotive site on West Hopkins St.

“There is no question that Milwaukee’s continued success is key to the state’s overall economic health,” Hall said. “The city has always been and will remain the economic hub of Wisconsin, and WEDC is committed to working with local officials and business leaders to ensure that the city continues to move forward.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett added: “Investments in brownfield remediation in Milwaukee pay dividends in a number of ways. They help create jobs. They turn underutilized land into more valuable property. And they reduce developers’ uncertainty about building on particular urban sites. I appreciate WEDC’s Brownfield Grant Program, and I am grateful for the investments here in Milwaukee.”

MEIJER DISTRIBUTION EXPANDS IN PLEASANT PRAIRIE

Meijer Distribution Inc. is investing $146 million to purchase and remodel an existing facility in Pleasant Prairie, WI for a new distribution center, which will create 300 new jobs. The distribution center, which will be located in the LakeView Corporate Park, is expected to serve stores in Wisconsin, Illinois, and possibly other states.

“This is great news for Kenosha County, which has proven that it is a very attractive area for job creators looking to grow and expand here in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “We’ll continue to do our part to improve the business climate in the state by cutting taxes, streamlining regulations, and investing in worker training, to keep our positive economic growth heading in the right direction.”

“We’re pleased that Meijer—after reviewing numerous options—decided to open its facility in southeastern Wisconsin,” said Reed Hall, Secretary and CEO of Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), the state’s lead economic development agency. “This is a growing company that has been in business for generations. We’re happy that the next phase of its growth will take place in Wisconsin.”

Once work is completed, the facility is expected to employ 271 full-time workers and 42 part-time employees. Meijer Distribution Inc., is eligible for up to $5.25 million in tax credits from WEDC over the next eight years. The actual amount of the credits will be contingent upon the number of jobs created.

“Kenosha County welcomes the Meijer team to our area, which has become a leading region in the state and the nation for new development and the jobs that accompany that growth,” said Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser.

“Meijer’s decision to operate in Pleasant Prairie is another strong signal that Kenosha County is the premier location for new investment in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor,” added Todd Battle, President of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA). “This is a major investment by a strong company with an incredible brand, a great history, and bright future.”

KABA is currently working with Meijer, Gateway Technical College and the Kenosha County Job Center to help the company meet its hiring needs.

RIVERSIDE EXPANDS IN EAU CLAIRE

Riverside Machine

Riverside Machine & Engineering is embarking on a $5.7-million expansion of its Eau Claire operations. (Photo: Riverside Machine and Engineering.)

Riverside Machine & Engineering Inc. is expanding its operations in western Wisconsin, a project that is expected to create 20 new jobs. The expansion also will retain 71 existing positions.

The company, which has run out of room at its landlocked Chippewa Falls facility, is relocating to Eau Claire, where it will embark on the $5.7 million expansion project. The company specializes in precision machining and aluminum vacuum furnace brazing.

“We’re pleased this family-owned business has decided to stay and grow in western Wisconsin,” said Gov. Scott Walker. “This is yet another sign of the continued strength of the manufacturing sector throughout Wisconsin.”

Because of increased customer demand, Riverside needs to expand its manufacturing operations and does not have the capacity to do so at its existing Chippewa Falls facility. The company had considered relocating to Minnesota before deciding to expand in Eau Claire.

Riverside will purchase and renovate a 159,000-square-foot building in the Gateway Industrial Park on the west side of Eau Claire, which had been occupied by Hutchinson Technology Inc. Riverside is expected to move to the new facility in the Gateway Industrial Park this summer.

“I am pleased to welcome Riverside Machine and Engineering to Eau Claire. As a new employer in the city, it is very exciting to anticipate the promise of new jobs,” said Kerry Kincaid, president of the Eau Claire City Council.

A $1 million loan from WEDC is contingent upon Riverside creating 20 jobs over the next three years, retaining 71 existing positions, and maintaining those jobs until at least 2019.

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