New owner takes over glass pyramid
Building sold for $800,000

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic Staff

Nov. 7, 2017

 What was then the Grafton State Bank building, the glass pyramid structure on Falls Road in Grafton, is pictured in 2007.
News Graphic file photo

GRAFTON — What is believed to be one of the tallest buildings in Ozaukee County is now under new ownership.

Paperwork for the purchase of the West Falls Center, 101 Falls Road, was filed with the Ozaukee County Register of Deeds office last Wednesday. Known to many as Grafton’s glass pyramid building, it was long home to the Grafton State Bank.

The property was purchased for $800,000, according to the county’s records.

According to the building’s leasing agent, Ryan Persitza of Commercial Realty Advisors, the operations of the building are expected to continue as they are for now. Many of the building’s current tenants are on multiyear leases, and the building’s office and commercial zoning is in line with the professional services businesses currently residing there.

“The management for the building is the same, though the ownership has changed,” Persitza said.

“The building will continue to be used like it is,” he added.

The purchase was made by local investor and businessman Steve Hobbs of Brookfield, according to Persitza. He said Hobbs spent several years living in Grafton, not far from the building he has now purchased, after emigrating from New Zealand.

The building was erected by Grafton State Bank, with construction beginning in 1973 and the building having its grand opening in January 1975, according to News Graphic archives.

The design for the peculiar building, the only one of its kind in Grafton, was selected by Ralph Zaun from among several submitted in a design competition. Zaun, now deceased, was president of Grafton State Bank and the grandson of its founder, Louis Zaun.

At seven stories, West Falls Center is among the tallest buildings in Ozaukee County, though it is actually several stories shorter than original designs, according to previous New Graphic articles covering the building’s approval process.

Original architectural plans were modified to accommodate building codes, Fire Department concerns and the flight plans for West Bend’s airport, according to comments Zaun made in 2008. Original designs had the building standing 10 stories tall.

The office building houses a variety of businesses, from an orthodontist to law offices. Persitza said more than 80 percent of the building’s space is currently leased, and much of what stands empty is the lobby and basement floors originally inhabited by the Grafton bank and later BMO Harris Bank, after that company bought out Grafton State Bank in 2008.

The lobby floor was designed as a bank, with multiple drive-through lanes on the grounds. The basement level is where the safety deposit boxes and vault facilities for the bank are located.

After BMO Harris left, there was a deed restriction on the space preventing another financial institution using it, according to Persitza. The restriction was temporary, however – some properties have permanent limitations – and no longer stands in effect.

“That has expired,” he said.

He said also that there have been talks with a bank and a credit union about leasing the space, though nothing is final at this time.