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Schlitz Park renovations move forward with $5 million project

Two largely vacant office buildings at downtown Milwaukee's Schlitz Park soon will be renovated, a $5.5 million project to accommodate some new tenants to be announced soon.

This is the first step in a larger planned redevelopment of Schlitz Park business park.

The two former Schlitz bottlehouses, at 1610 N. 2nd St. and 101 W. Pleasant St., will be remodeled, developer Gary Grunau said Tuesday. That work is to begin immediately.

The two buildings will be connected at the first floor to create 8,000 square feet of common space, known as The Link. It will include meeting areas for work or breaks as well as a fitness center.

The connected buildings, which total 140,000 square feet, will have 90,000 square feet of available office space.

Grunau said he's working with prospective tenants that will fill a substantial portion of that vacant space. He declined to name them because the leases are not yet final.

Current bottlehouse tenants include the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and Educational Credential Evaluators.

The project is being financed with a loan from U.S. Bank, Grunau said. The renovations are to be completed by the end of April.

In June, Grunau announced that the former Schlitz brew house would be demolished, and other former brewery buildings converted to offices would be remodeled, under a $30 million renovation plan.

The overall project calls for remodeling 350,000 square feet and creating more natural lighting, exposed ceilings and open, flexible work space. The main focus of the larger project is on the two bottlehouse buildings and two other buildings that have most of the vacant space at Schlitz Park.

The next phase will be a renovation of the 500,000-square-foot RiverCenter, 1515-1575 N. River Center Drive, with work to begin in 2012, Grunau said. He said private financing for that project is being assembled.

There also will be work on creating more green space and walking trails at the 46-acre office park.

The remodeling is designed to help Schlitz Park retain current tenants, which include Aurora Health Care Inc., Fidelity National Information Services Inc. and U.S. Bank, and attract new businesses from the suburbs.

Schlitz Park will seek to have the renovated bottlehouse buildings certified as environmentally friendly properties by the U.S. Green Building Council.

More than 4,200 employees work in Schlitz Park and the neighboring buildings that are home to Manpower Inc. and Time Warner. Schlitz Park is owned and managed by The Brewery Works Inc., which was formed by the Grunau and Sampson families that bought the former Schlitz brewery complex in 1983.

© 2011, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

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