by Dan Rafter
Once every 10 to 15 years. That’s how often projects as important as the 833 East downtown office tower come along in Milwaukee, said Dave Merrick, development director and Milwaukee manager for Irgens.
And this is one of the reasons why Merrick says that Irgens is making a bit of history in Milwaukee in its role as developer/asset manager for 833 East, an 18-story, 358,017-square-foot Class-A office building now under construction on the US Bank Center campus in Milwaukee’s Central Business District.
“These types of products don’t come along every day,” Merrick said. “For our firm to be a part of this, to be part of the lakefront redevelopment in Milwaukee, is extremely exciting for everyone in our company.”
The 833 East project is part of a larger effort in Milwaukee to connect the city more closely to the shores of Lake Michigan. As Merrick says, the high-rises and other important buildings in downtown Milwaukee have usually hugged the shores of the Milwaukee River, not those of Lake Michigan.
Today, new construction is slowly shifting toward to the city’s lakefront area. The goal is to tie downtown Milwaukee to the lake, and take better advantage of the city’s prime position on Lake Michigan’s shore. The 833 East office tower is an important part of this effort. The office tower will be one of the prime additions to the US Bank Center, and that center is located just a block from Lake Michigan.
“This building will be the focal point of the US Bank campus,” Merrick said. “And that area is where much of the downtown redevelopment activity is happening.”
The US Bank Center itself has been a success story in downtown Milwaukee. The campus includes more 1.8 million square feet of office space and is more than 99 percent occupied. The campus is made up of the US Bank Center, 875 East Wisconsin, the Lewis Center and the Juneau North and South buildings.
When 833 East opens — Irgens says that the office tower will be ready for occupancy in mid-February of 2016 — it will just add to the activity at this already busy campus, Merrick said. Irgens said that more than 168,000 square feet of 833 East is already pre-leased. The tenant mix includes Godfrey & Kahn, Colliers International, Cresa Milwaukee and First American. Irgens itself is leasing more than 25,000 square feet in the building.
Because 833 East is the first office tower built in downtown Milwaukee in more than a decade, Irgens officials knew that they had to equip it with plenty of amenities. The project will include an on-site fitness center with private showers and locker-room facilities, a common conference center with enough space for up to 120 people, private exterior terraces for certain tenant suites, a high-end restaurant at ground level along Michigan Street and 456 enclosed and climate-controlled parking stalls.
The office tower also features an electric-car charging station, enclosed bicycle parking and bike-share transfer point and access through skywalks and internal corridors to the US Bank Center & Galleria and other key buildings in the area.
One of the more attractive features for tenants are the larger floor plates available to them at 833 East. Irgens officials say that office floors measure 26,000 rentable square feet and offer column-free 45-foot spans with 30-foot wide column bays. This large amount of open space provides more flexibility to tenants.
Merrick says that the pre-leasing activity at 833 East is another sign that demand for Class-A office space is on the rise in downtown Milwaukee.
“Companies are making real estate decisions again. Activity is definitely trending in the right direction in downtown Milwaukee,” Merrick said. “At the same time, the supply of downtown office product, especially in the Class-A sector, is very tight. That is why we have confidence that our project will be successful. We are excited about our project. There is a lack of Class-A office space in downtown and a growing demand for it. We meet that demand.”