GRAEF to move HQ to Grand Avenue

Mall owners to unveil master vision Thursday

Posted by Molly Dill and Andrew Weiland from BizTimes on December 5, 2018

Milwaukee-based engineering firm GRAEF-USA Inc. plans to move its headquarters downtown into The Shops of Grand Avenue, according to sources familiar with the deal.

The engineering, planning and design firm works with a national client base in planning; landscape and industrial architecture; operations consulting; and structural, civil, transportation, MEP and environmental engineering. It has 254 total employees, 163 of whom are based in Milwaukee. GRAEF has three Wisconsin offices, as well as locations in Chicago, Minneapolis, Orlando and Miami.

Its current headquarters is at 125 S. 84th St., Suite 401, in the Honey Creek business park on Milwaukee’s west side.

The owners of Grand Avenue, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., plan to make a public announcement Thursday with an update on the redevelopment of the space. Sources say the GRAEF move and the tenants of a planned food hall will be announced at the event.

Leaders from GRAEF and the mall ownership group could not be reached for comment.

GRAEF has been seeking a new headquarters location for several months. According to a real estate industry source, when GRAEF started looking at the market for a new office space, it was seeking 30,000 to 35,000 square feet. Another source indicated GRAEF would occupy the third floor at the Grand Avenue.

The mall’s ownership group is a joint venture between Milwaukee-based Aggero Group and Minneapolis-based Hempel Cos. In 2015, a group including those two firms and Tony Janowiec, who at the time was principal of Milwaukee-based Interstate Parking Co., purchased the mall for $24.5 million.

They revealed a $65 million redevelopment plan for the downtown mall in April 2016, which included plans for up to 120,000 square feet of office space on the second and third floors and a food hall and urban marketplace on the first floor. They were also seeking a grocery store for the 34,000-square-foot former Linens ‘n Things space.

The owners as of 2016 were seeking a single or multi-tenant office user, and were offering naming rights to the tenant on North Old World Third Street, the parking structure and on the Plankinton Building.

In June 2018, the owners gave an update on the 293,596-square-foot mall, for which they were still seeking a grocery store, had planned the food hall and were also building apartments.

Nearing completion is the buildout of the 50 apartments on the second floor of the Plankinton Arcade, called Plankinton Clover. The owners planned to create an “amenity alley” for tenants including locker rooms, a conference room and a “doggy wellness center.” As of June, those apartments were expected to begin leasing in November, but they have not yet been listed.

This spring, Omar Shaikh, co-owner and president of SURG Restaurant Group LLC, was tapped to lead the food hall.

Sources have also indicated an innovation hub could be a tenant in the redeveloped Grand Avenue.

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