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BMO Harris Tower groundbreaking sign of progress in downtown renaissance

The 25-story tower is on Water Street
Posted: 5:17 PM, Nov 16, 2017
Updated: 2017-11-16 23:17:28Z

A toss of dirt by a dozen people downtown showed signs of a commitment to the city. 

BMO Harris announced it will build a 25 story tower next to its current location on Water Street. The building will be its third on Water Street as it continues its storied tradition in the city. 

"We've been in Milwaukee for over 150 years," said David Casper, CEO of BMO Harris Bank. "This year, we're 200 years old as a company. It's only fitting we would come and have our next major building right here in Milwaukee. Right here on Water Street. Where it almost began many, many years ago."

"There is an incredible renaissance occurring in the city of Milwaukee," said Mayor Tom Barrett. "It's unlike anything we've seen in generations."

Barrett was more than pleased to see the renderings of the new BMO Tower but it's what it represents that makes him happier. 

"By building this really gorgeous building here, it underscores its commitment to the community," Barrett said. "This is just a wonderful addition. It compliments all that's gone on already and what's to come."

"It's a win for the city to be able to keep BMO Harris and operations here," said Sean Ryan with the Milwaukee Business Journal.

The building is 379,000 square feet with approximately 647 total enclosed and tempered parking stalls. Of that space, BMO Harris Bank will occupy 123,000 square feet and Michael Best & Friedrich will have another 59,000 square feet. 

But there will be more than that amount of space, 187,000 square feet, available for lease. 

"It shows they have the confidence there are going to be other companies that want to be in this area," Ryan said.

As part of the downtown renaissance, the building will also be able to house a restaurant space in the office tower and another at the corner of Wells and Broadway. In addition, once they move from their old building to the new one, it will be renovated to make way for a hotel, retail space or housing units in 2020, continuing the way for a strong downtown renaissance. 

"It will help reinforce Water Street," said Mark Irgens, CEO with Irgens. "To bring in some new blood and life and additional retail activity and activity and population to the area will be good for the area." 

"I think it's a really big deal for Milwaukee to have another big company make the statement that we're making to support Milwaukee and support Southeast Wisconsin," Casper said. "I love Milwaukee. I love this location. It's so close to so many things. It reminds me of how long and how vibrant Milwaukee has been here."