June 22. 2012 11:15AM

Irgens unveils plans for new downtown office tower

Wauwatosa-based commercial real estate development firm Irgens announced today that it plans to develop an 18-story, 350,000-square-foot office building at 833 E. Michigan St. in downtown Milwaukee. The cost of the project is estimated at $100 million.

The site is currently occupied by the annex parking garage for the U.S. Bank Center.
BizTimes Milwaukee first reported in April that Irgens was working on a project at that site.
The new office building would be the new headquarters for the Godfrey & Kahn law firm, which would move there from the former M&I Bank headquarters building at 780 N. Water St. downtown. Godfrey & Kahn would occupy about 100,000 square feet in the top four floors of the building.
Irgens has been working for years to develop a new office building downtown that would be anchored by Godfrey & Kahn. A joint venture with Irgens and Van Buren Management owner Joel Lee to develop an office building just east of the Pfister Hotel fell through earlier this year.
"We continue to work with Irgens to pursue a development at (833 E. Michigan St.)," said Nic Wahl, managing partner of Godfrey & Kahn, S.C. "We have always liked that site and we think it would be great for the city of Milwaukee. As in all developments, things need to occur before the project becomes reality, but there seems to be some good momentum."
In addition to Godfrey & Kahn, Irgens has letters of intent from a 24,000-square-foot fitness center and a 20,000-square-foot office tenant for the building.
With a total of about 145,000 square feet committed, the project needs an additional tenant or tenants to commit to occupy 25,000 to 30,000 square feet of space to get the project off the ground, said Mark Irgens, chief executive officer, president and manager of Irgens. The firm's announcement today is an attempt to help attract interest from potential tenants. Bill Bonifas of CBRE is handling the leasing for the building.
Irgens said he hopes to break ground on the project during the first quarter of 2013. It will take 20 months to construct the building, he said.
U.S. Bank, which owns the site, is a committed partner in the project and will sell the property to Irgens and will assist in providing financing for the development. Other financing sources will also be pursued, Irgens said.
The building will be called 833 East Michigan. Irgens said it will be a glass and steel structure that "will feature the latest in building design and technology." Amenities in the building will include an outdoor terrace overlooking Lake Michigan, a skywalk to the U.S. Bank Center and its galleria, a street-level restaurant with outdoor seating and 323 on-site parking spaces. The building will utilize other parking spaces nearby, including some at the U.S. Bank Center parking structure.
"833 East Michigan will provide downtown Milwaukee with a sustainable, elegant, and state-of-the-art multi-tenant office building," Irgens said. "Along with our partners, we are excited to move this project forward as we firmly believe that it is achievable in both size and scope in today's economic environment."
Irgens hopes to achieve LEED certification for the project sustainable elements including energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, electric car charging stations and a bike-share transfer point.
Kahler Slater is the architect of record for the project.
The 833 East Michigan project could be built as development plans move forward for the Milwaukee County Downtown Transit Center site, located directed to the east. The Downtown Transit Center is an underutilized bus garage and county officials are seeking development proposals for the site, which is right on the lakefront. Irgens is one of four developers that responded to a request for information (RFI) from the county for the Downtown Transit Center site. The other developers are Rick Barrett (who is building The Moderne, a 30-story residential building under construction at Old World Third Street and Juneau Avenue downtown), Wauwatosa-based Wangard Companies and Minneapolis-based Ryan Cos., according to sources. Barrett is proposing a 40-story residential building for the site, according to sources. The County Board's Economic and Community Development Committee will review the proposals for the Downtown Transit Center at its July meeting.