Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. announced it intends to
build a mixed-use real estate development, including a parking
structure, immediately west of its downtown Milwaukee campus.
The Thursday announcement came hours after the Milwaukee County
Board voted 9-8 against buying O’Donnell Park, including its
parking structure. Earlier this year, Northwestern Mutual
proposed paying $14 million, the appraised value of the parking
structure, and would receive a $1.3 million credit for needed
maintenance on the structure. Had the measure passed, the county
would likely have retired $7 million of the park’s debt and have
more than $5 million left to improve parks across the county.
“Although we are disappointed by the County Board’s decision, we
want to acknowledge the outpouring of support we have received
from all corners of the community, both today and throughout the
debate,” said Sandy Botcher, vice present at Northwestern Mutual
and head of the company’s downtown campus expansion project.
“With this missed opportunity, it is now incumbent on the County
Board to find solutions to the long-overdue deferred maintenance
issues at O’Donnell,” Botcher added in a statement. “The board
needs to make good on this morning’s dialogue about better
options for O’Donnell Park, including how to pay for the
millions of dollars in deferred maintenance.”
Botcher said Northwestern Mutual will begin work with Mayor Tom
Barrett and the Milwaukee Common Council on plans for the new
development, adjacent to the west side of its downtown campus.
The preliminary plans include up to 1,000 parking spaces for its
employees, but also incorporate residential and possible retail
components, a company release said.
The company owns nearly all of the property on the block bounded
by North Van Buren, North Jackson, East Mason and East Wells
streets. It also owns the block that surrounds the 611 E.
Wisconsin building on the southwest corner of Van Buren Street
and Wisconsin Avenue.
At this time, Botcher said, the company has no further specifics
on scope, cost, location or design of the development.