Upgrades considered for Bishop’s Woods

Some say office park needs more amenities to be competitive

In April 2016, Bader Rutter chief executive officer Greg Nickerson announced an end to its three-year search for new office space.

The 220-person marketing firm would move from Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield to an office building being developed by Wangard Partners at the former Laacke & Joys site in downtown Milwaukee.

The news was celebrated by Milwaukee, which had just snagged another suburban office tenant.

The city of Brookfield is looking at ways to attract more tenants to Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield.

But in Brookfield, it was becoming part of a storyline, particularly at Bishop’s Woods, which was experiencing low occupancy rates through the third quarter of 2016.

Bader Rutter occupied 55,000 square feet at 13845 Bishops Drive. The space was eventually filled when Pentair Water Filtration consolidated its Wisconsin office space, moving about 150 employees from Glendale and the company’s manufacturing plant in Brookfield to the office park.

However, driving through the wooded office park, which was largely developed in the 1980s, there are still many “for lease” signs on its 23 buildings.

Bishop’s Woods is not an anomaly, rather a part of a growing national trend as suburban firms move to downtowns or to more contemporary office developments to attract and retain millennial talent.

Recognizing the situation, the City of Brookfield’s economic development and community development departments have proposed the creation of a Bishop’s Woods neighborhood plan.

The city is looking at ways to collaborate with the private businesses located in the park to add amenities that will capitalize on the green space in Bishop’s Woods. As of right now, a TIF district is not being considered, although the city could use funds to extend Bishops Way, which is a cul-de-sac and Bishops Drive, which dead ends in the park, said Dan Ertl, city community development director.

Bishop’s Woods is facing what many suburban office
parks built in the 1980s are – increased competition
from downtown urban areas.

The office park’s older buildings have challenges, but its location along the Bluemound Road corridor and I-94 give it a unique advantage, Ertl said.

Another possibility would be to change the zoning in Bishop’s Woods to allow for some office-orientated retail, such as coffee shops, UPS, or possibly a restaurant or hotel, Ertl said.

“Bishop’s Woods is very unique and one of the only wooded landscape reserve office parks in southeastern Wisconsin,” he said. “It has very recognizable branding locally and that is part of the reason it has taken so long to finally see the result of not keeping themselves up-to-date. That has led to the point of investigation of what incremental changes we can do to keep it in line with other office parks.”

The plan will likely be finalized next year following community meetings and Common Council approval.

The Bishop’s Woods property was acquired from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1971. Construction of the first office building there started in 1974, and over the following decade the majority of the buildings were built.

In the late 1990s, The Pinnacle at Bishops Woods, which is located on a 28-acre site at Sunnyslope Road and Bishops Drive, housing 250,000 square feet in three buildings, was constructed.

Today, on the northern end of the office park, near Bluemound Road, Atlanta-based Atlantic Realty Partners and Campbell Capital Group LLC are currently constructing The Reserve, a 194-unit apartment complex.

Some office tenants in Bishop’s Woods are perfectly happy to be there. Concurrency bought the building at 13600 Bishops Court in 2015 and moved its headquarters there. The company has about 130 employees working in that office and has no intention of leaving, said Ted Wentzel, director of marketing for Concurrency.

“We wanted a more centralized, safe location close to services, restaurants, shops with easy access to the highway and this has worked out great for us,” Wentzel said, adding that increasing the office park’s public amenities, including walking trails, would be an added benefit for Concurrency employees and others working in Bishop’s Woods.

“There are so many people from here and all around Brookfield that walk here,” he said. “And after work we have a running group that gets together. It is an ideal location, especially if you live in the western suburbs.”

Concurrency Inc. purchased a 30,000-square-foot
office building in Bishop’s Woods in 2015 and moved
its headquarters there.

Not every business that has left Bishop’s Woods is moving downtown. MLG Capital will move its corporate headquarters from Bishop’s Woods into the former Brennan’s Market building on Bluemound Road in the Town of Brookfield. MLG Chairman and co-founder J. Michael Mooney said the move offers MLG Capital a chance to have a Historic Third Ward-type environment with plenty of parking spaces.

Mooney said he has enjoyed working in Bishop’s Woods, which he called a gorgeous wooded environment. But he admitted some of the buildings look a little tired.

“There is a great movement toward high energy, non-traditional types of offices. That is why we looked at 30 buildings before deciding where to move and when Brennan’s came on the market, we made an offer that same day,” Mooney said.

This will be MLG Capital’s fourth move in 30 years. The last three moves have been on the Bluemound Road corridor.

Mooney thinks adding a modern apartment complex to the front of the Bishop’s Woods office park will make it more appealing.

“Dining wouldn’t hurt either,” he said. “But that would take a fair amount of tenant improvements because all of the buildings are set up for offices.”

Rachel Schmidt, an office broker with MLG Commercial who has done a lot of work in Bishop’s Woods, said some of office park’s biggest draws are also what end up making tenants want to leave.

For example, people love the secluded location and meandering roads, which provides a setting for wild turkey and deer, but want better signage.

The same goes for the park’s location between Highway 100 and Moorland Road: It is not in the heavy traffic areas of office parks farther west on Bluemound Road, but some complain it is not as easy to get to Bishop’s Woods off the freeway, Schmidt said.

“A lot is dealing with perception,” she said. “I think if (Brookfield) is willing to commit to its revitalization and changing perception, that is key. As well as building owners having to understand that they have to make improvements to the amenities.”

In April 2016, Bader Rutter chief executive officer Greg Nickerson announced an end to its three-year search for new office space.

The 220-person marketing firm would move from Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield to an office building being developed by Wangard Partners at the former Laacke & Joys site in downtown Milwaukee.

The news was celebrated by Milwaukee, which had just snagged another suburban office tenant.

The city of Brookfield is looking at ways to attract more tenants to Bishop’s Woods office park in Brookfield.

But in Brookfield, it was becoming part of a storyline, particularly at Bishop’s Woods, which was experiencing low occupancy rates through the third quarter of 2016.

Bader Rutter occupied 55,000 square feet at 13845 Bishops Drive. The space was eventually filled when Pentair Water Filtration consolidated its Wisconsin office space, moving about 150 employees from Glendale and the company’s manufacturing plant in Brookfield to the office park.

However, driving through the wooded office park, which was largely developed in the 1980s, there are still many “for lease” signs on its 23 buildings.

Bishop’s Woods is not an anomaly, rather a part of a growing national trend as suburban firms move to downtowns or to more contemporary office developments to attract and retain millennial talent.

Recognizing the situation, the City of Brookfield’s economic development and community development departments have proposed the creation of a Bishop’s Woods neighborhood plan.

The city is looking at ways to collaborate with the private businesses located in the park to add amenities that will capitalize on the green space in Bishop’s Woods. As of right now, a TIF district is not being considered, although the city could use funds to extend Bishops Way, which is a cul-de-sac and Bishops Drive, which dead ends in the park, said Dan Ertl, city community development director.

Bishop’s Woods is facing what many suburban office
parks built in the 1980s are – increased competition
from downtown urban areas.

The office park’s older buildings have challenges, but its location along the Bluemound Road corridor and I-94 give it a unique advantage, Ertl said.

Another possibility would be to change the zoning in Bishop’s Woods to allow for some office-orientated retail, such as coffee shops, UPS, or possibly a restaurant or hotel, Ertl said.

“Bishop’s Woods is very unique and one of the only wooded landscape reserve office parks in southeastern Wisconsin,” he said. “It has very recognizable branding locally and that is part of the reason it has taken so long to finally see the result of not keeping themselves up-to-date. That has led to the point of investigation of what incremental changes we can do to keep it in line with other office parks.”

The plan will likely be finalized next year following community meetings and Common Council approval.

The Bishop’s Woods property was acquired from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 1971. Construction of the first office building there started in 1974, and over the following decade the majority of the buildings were built.

In the late 1990s, The Pinnacle at Bishops Woods, which is located on a 28-acre site at Sunnyslope Road and Bishops Drive, housing 250,000 square feet in three buildings, was constructed.

Today, on the northern end of the office park, near Bluemound Road, Atlanta-based Atlantic Realty Partners and Campbell Capital Group LLC are currently constructing The Reserve, a 194-unit apartment complex.

Some office tenants in Bishop’s Woods are perfectly happy to be there. Concurrency bought the building at 13600 Bishops Court in 2015 and moved its headquarters there. The company has about 130 employees working in that office and has no intention of leaving, said Ted Wentzel, director of marketing for Concurrency.

“We wanted a more centralized, safe location close to services, restaurants, shops with easy access to the highway and this has worked out great for us,” Wentzel said, adding that increasing the office park’s public amenities, including walking trails, would be an added benefit for Concurrency employees and others working in Bishop’s Woods.

“There are so many people from here and all around Brookfield that walk here,” he said. “And after work we have a running group that gets together. It is an ideal location, especially if you live in the western suburbs.”

Concurrency Inc. purchased a 30,000-square-foot
office building in Bishop’s Woods in 2015 and moved
its headquarters there.

Not every business that has left Bishop’s Woods is moving downtown. MLG Capital will move its corporate headquarters from Bishop’s Woods into the former Brennan’s Market building on Bluemound Road in the Town of Brookfield. MLG Chairman and co-founder J. Michael Mooney said the move offers MLG Capital a chance to have a Historic Third Ward-type environment with plenty of parking spaces.

Mooney said he has enjoyed working in Bishop’s Woods, which he called a gorgeous wooded environment. But he admitted some of the buildings look a little tired.

“There is a great movement toward high energy, non-traditional types of offices. That is why we looked at 30 buildings before deciding where to move and when Brennan’s came on the market, we made an offer that same day,” Mooney said.

This will be MLG Capital’s fourth move in 30 years. The last three moves have been on the Bluemound Road corridor.

Mooney thinks adding a modern apartment complex to the front of the Bishop’s Woods office park will make it more appealing.

“Dining wouldn’t hurt either,” he said. “But that would take a fair amount of tenant improvements because all of the buildings are set up for offices.”

Rachel Schmidt, an office broker with MLG Commercial who has done a lot of work in Bishop’s Woods, said some of office park’s biggest draws are also what end up making tenants want to leave.

For example, people love the secluded location and meandering roads, which provides a setting for wild turkey and deer, but want better signage.

The same goes for the park’s location between Highway 100 and Moorland Road: It is not in the heavy traffic areas of office parks farther west on Bluemound Road, but some complain it is not as easy to get to Bishop’s Woods off the freeway, Schmidt said.

“A lot is dealing with perception,” she said. “I think if (Brookfield) is willing to commit to its revitalization and changing perception, that is key. As well as building owners having to understand that they have to make improvements to the amenities.”

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