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Developer proposes remake of dated Downtown office building

As investment continues to pour into the Isthmus, a prominent developer is now proposing a $15 million to $18 million face-lift and renovation for a big but bland and dated Downtown office building.

Hovde Properties has acquired the 10-story AT&T building and is seeking permission to add glass and windows to the facade to modernize and bring more light into the cream-colored, stone-paneled structure at 316 W. Washington Ave.

Hovde also proposes renovating the interior to create space for future tenants, redoing the front entrance plaza and side entrance, and upgrading landscaping.

The building, constructed in 1970 as Wisconsin Bell’s corporate headquarters, has 180,000 square feet of space and two levels of underground parking. AT&T Services occupies four floors of the building and is the lone tenant.

“It’s a pretty significant building that’s been sorely underutilized,” Hovde president Michael Slavish said. “We’re pretty excited about bringing this asset back to the marketplace.”

Hovde representatives are meeting with the Mifflin West District of Capitol Neighborhoods Inc. and seeking approval for the project from the Urban Design Commission on Wednesday.

“The building has certainly seen its better days,” said Ald. Mike Verveer, 4th District, who represents the area. “I’m very pleased with what I’ve seen thus far.”

Specifically, Hovde wants to remove the stone facade from the second floor and the sixth through ninth floors of the structure’s eastern tower, and add windows in those areas on the main facade facing West Washington Avenue.

Hovde also wants to cut window openings into stone panels on the first through 10th floors of the North Henry Street facade, and on the eighth through 10th floors of the west facade.

The new light and interior changes will transform the building, making it attractive to young professionals looking for lower-priced office space, Slavish


Hovde hopes to start upgrades and renovations as soon as city approvals are secured.

The developer is unsure if it will seek tax increment financing (TIF) support. The property is not in a TIF district.

“We’re looking at that right now,” Slavish said. “We’re still running the numbers.”

The main concern is whether the project could go forward without city assistance, Verveer said.

Last week, the Plan Commission enthusiastically approved Urban Land Interests’ proposal to expand the AnchorBank building at the corner of West Main and South Carroll streets on Capitol Square, demolish a hulking parking garage across the street, and construct a mixed-use building with 7,500 square feet of commercial space, 96 apartments and 550 underground parking stalls.

ULI’s land use approvals now move to the City Council.

A key to the project, however, is if ULI can persuade the city to make a substantial public investment in the project.

The Hovde and ULI projects would join tens of millions in redevelopment occurring Downtown and on the near East Side.

Original post by Dean Mosiman and featured in the Wisconsin State Journal. To view the original post, click here.

Developer Proposes Remake Of Dated Downtown Office Building 1

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