Chicago developer working with Facebook HQ designer for Post Office building
Milwaukee site to be turned into mixed-use development

By Katherine Michalets - Conley News Service

Oct. 15, 2015

 This view of the downtown Milwaukee Post Office along the Milwaukee River looks
to the northwest.  

Photo courtesy of DTZ/Barry

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Post Office on West St. Paul Avenue has been sold to a Chicago-based investor and developer, R2 Companies, which eventually plans to turn the nine-acre site into a multi-use development.

Matt Garrison, managing principal of R2 Cos., said he considers the site to be “the best large-scale redevelopment site in Milwaukee.”

The Barry Company, a commercial real estate company headquartered in Milwaukee, was the broker for the sale of the 1,105,000-square-foot post office building, 341 W. St. Paul Ave., which also has 1,500 feet of frontage on the Milwaukee River. Kurt Van Dyke and Jim Young of The Barry Company worked as the principal brokers in the transaction.

“The Post Office controls the building on a long-term basis with a lease that has multiple options to renew,” Van Dyke said in a statement. “We were encouraged when three strong offers were generated almost immediately from large out-of-state developers with an interest in eventually developing the property to a transit-oriented use.”

Garrison said R2 Cos. purchased the building for a little more than $13 million.

“We purchased it ultimately because we would like to redevelop it,” he said.

The Post Office, which occupies the entire building, will remain for the next five years, at which point its lease terms are up, but are negotiable. Garrison said the St. Paul Avenue building is not a great fit for the Post Office and he would anticipate the organization wanting to move at some point.

In the interim, R2 Cos. is meeting with city officials including the planning department, Garrison said, to determine what’s best for the site.

Garrison said R2 Cos. is working with Gensler, a commercial office building developer out of San Francisco, who designed the Facebook headquarters, the Shanghai Tower and the Currency House in Dubai.

The vision for the Post Office building is it would be turned into a mixed-use development with possibly retail on the first floor, office space, a hotel and multi-family residential space.

The location along the river and near other great neighborhoods in Milwaukee made the Post Office’s location desirable for redevelopment, Garrison said. He said he considers the area underdeveloped, which is understandable considering the Post Office occupying such a large area.

Knowing the Milwaukee Bucks will be staying in the city and there will be investment in a new facility is also encouraging.

“Milwaukee is and can become an even greater of a city,” Garrison said, adding the investment in the city has “inspired confidence in us and hopefully a lot of others.”