Andy Larsen, Boelter + Lincoln
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Development to be catalyst for Reed St. Yards Tax Incremental District (TID)
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Sep. 1, 2011) – On September 2, The Milwaukee Water Council will announce it is pursuing the development of a Water Research & Business Accelerator Building at 223 W. Pittsburgh in Milwaukee’s Historic Fifth Ward. The building will house water-related research activities for universities, existing water-related companies, the Water Council, and companies promoting business development and accelerator space for new, emerging water-related companies.
The building under consideration is a 98,000 square foot, seven story warehouse loft built in 1906. It is adjacent to the Reed Street Yards, which the City of Milwaukee has designated as a water technology research park. The building’s redevelopment is considered a catalytic project for the Reed Street Yards Tax Incremental District, setting the stage for the City of Milwaukee to move forward with the infrastructure improvements to establish the water technology research park—and the Milwaukee region—as a global showcase for water management.
The new water research and business accelerator building is believed to be the first of its kind in the United States and one of only a handful in the world. Possible tenants include A. O. Smith Corp., Badger Meter, Milwaukee Water Council and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). Additional water technology companies have expressed interest in the research center and will be announced at a later date.
The 223 W. Pittsburgh project is also highly significant for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the first step in expanding their School of Freshwater Sciences and developing an iconic education and research facility at the Reed Street Yards.
“I am pleased this project is moving forward. It has the potential to foster innovation and job creation for Milwaukee and the region,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “The development of this center is a solid example of the private sector, academia and government working together in partnership to solidify Milwaukee’s position as a global water technology leader.”
The building will be owned by a group of private investors and developed by HKS Holdings, LLC. Kahler Slater has been selected as the architect for the building and KBS Construction as the general contractor. The project’s actual start and construction dates will be determined once leasing arrangements with tenants and approvals from the City of Milwaukee have been finalized. It is the Water Council’s intent to accomplish this by the end of 2011 and start construction in 2012.
A portion of the project will be financed through a combination of New Market Tax Credits and Historic Tax Credits. The project is being supported by the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Foundation.
In addition to garnering the support of local business and government officials, the project has also received praise from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).
“WEDC has identified the Water Technology Cluster as a target industry of opportunity in Wisconsin. To support this industry, WEDC has put a priority on advancing water technology exports and foreign investment in Wisconsin water opportunities,” said WEDC’s CEO, Paul Jadin. “WEDC is exploring how it can play an active role in supporting and advancing the growth and expansion of established and new water technology businesses in this unique, pioneering building.”
The first floor of this project will feature common area amenities that will include a 50-person lecture hall, exhibition space for new prototypes, common gathering area, and, most importantly, a shared water flow lab, provided by Badger Meter. “The flow lab is a necessary but expensive piece of equipment for water research and product development,” stated Rich Meeusen, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Badger Meter and Co-Chair of the Milwaukee Water Council. “Instead of waiting weeks and spending a substantial amount of money, building tenants will be able to get nearly instantaneous results at relatively no cost which is unheard of in the United States.”
The project will have direct visibility from the 6th street viaduct, interstate I-94/I-43, the Harley Davidson Museum and Iron Horse Hotel. It will also be at the footsteps of any new development that occurs in the Reed Street Yards. Once this project is complete, it is expected that there will be a demand for more housing and commercial amenities within the immediate area.
There are currently no employees in the building. It is expected that once construction is completed, approximately 125 people will be employed by the tenants in the building. The goal is to transfer the water technology innovations developed in the building into successful new companies that will require additional skilled employees.
About the Milwaukee Water Council
Created by leaders in both business and education, the Milwaukee Water Council is convening the region’s existing water companies and research clusters, developing education programs to train talent, and building partnerships that cut across all sectors and geographic boundaries. The Milwaukee Water Council believes it can advance Milwaukee’s global position by becoming a magnet that attracts creative talent, innovative ideas and is recognized as a World Water Hub for research, education and economic development. For more information, visit http://www.thewatercouncil.com.