Schlitz Park Wins Best Deal/Lease of the Year

Once again, Schlitz Park was a winner in the Business Journ of Milwaukee's annual Real Estate Awards.  Following up on its 2013 win, Schlitz Park's final phase was honored as the Best Deal/LEase of the Year.

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Schlitz Park (final phase): 2015 Real Estate Awards
235 W. Galena St., Milwaukee

By Sean Ryan

The final phase of work at Schlitz Park was so difficult to pull off, it probably would not have made sense to do it as a stand-alone project.

The project renovated the long-vacant, 150,000-square-foot Stock House and Executive buildings in Schlitz Park, and demolished the adjacent former Schlitz brew house to create a park space. UMB Fund Services and the Milwaukee Bucks have since moved their offices to the newly-renovated building.

Although fraught with challenges, it was worthwhile because the green space and Brown Bottle Restaurant in the Stock House benefit the entire 40-acre business park, said Gary Grunau, a member of Schlitz Park’s ownership group. Before the project, however, the vacant buildings were a drag on the entire property.

“It was really kind of integral to all parts of the park,” Grunau said. “If we had looked at that project by itself it would have been extremely difficult to do. The fact that it benefited all buildings and all people here made it something that we should do.”

The project is the third and final major phase of renovations to Schlitz Park. It also was the hardest, Grunau said. Schlitz Parks owners “agonized” over the Stock House for years, he said. But to make it a reality, the project had a tight timeline to meet UMB’s move-in date. Remodeling work began in September 2013, and UMB started to move there in June 2014, he said.

“It was a mess,” he said. “We had to take that building right down to the concrete and put in all new elevators, all new HVAC, all new sprinklers, all new electrical systems, everything. It was just something we had to do.”

The developers could not secure financing for the project without the commitment from UMB Fund Services to lease 88,000 square feet of the building for 10 years. The project was not eligible for historic tax credits, and became ineligible for federal New Markets Tax Credits, another strong financing source, in 2013.

It was a challenging renovation. Every week of the project brought a new discovery, including unexpected structural conditions, or delightful historic remnants, said TJ Morley, senior design architect and principal of Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee.

“It’s challenging enough to rehabilitate a single historic structure with accompanying unknowns and surprises, but to juggle all of these projects simultaneously — each contractor vying for room to work — was quite significant,” he said.

The job was possible due to close collaboration between the project team, said John Gilroy, project executive with construction manager Gilbane Building Co.

“There was always a positive undertone,” he said. “Regardless of how difficult or challenging the issue was, everybody was going to work together.”


Owner/Developer: The Brewery Works
Construction Manager: Gilbane Building Co.
Architect: Eppstein Uhen Architects
Lead Broker: RFP Commercial Inc.
Lead Finance: Associated Bank
Lead Legal Counsel: Reinhart Boerner Van Deuren SC
Completion: September 2014
Project Cost: $30 million