STATE OF THE STATE

Gov. Scott Walker

MICHELLE STOCKER, CAPITAL TIMES

Gov. Scott Walker announced Friday he intends to sell state offices in Milwaukee to a private developer to make way for a new state building in that city.

The state will eliminate five private leases and consolidate multiple agencies in the new building, saving an estimated $1.2 million annually in rent, maintenance and energy costs, according to Walker’s office. The new building and land acquisition is expected to cost $50 million, which is planned to be included in the 2019-2021 state budget.

“Offering this prime real estate for sale will open the door for new businesses that will help fuel the revival of downtown Milwaukee, and taxpayers will have greater access to services, in a modern facility, and at a lower cost,” Walker said in a statement.

The current state office building is located at 819 N. 6th Street in downtown Milwaukee and was built in 1963. Walker’s office said the building is approaching the end of its “useful life.” Walker’s office said the building’s location, near the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, is desirable for private development.

The sale of the Milwaukee state office building is part of the state’s real estate strategy to reduce operational costs, the use of private leases, and spur economic development, Walker’s office said.

The following state agencies have regional offices in the current building:

  • Department of Administration
  • Department of Corrections
  • Department of Health Services
  • Department of Workforce Development
  • Department of Transportation
  • Department of Revenue
  • Governor’s Office
  • Board on Aging & Long Term Care
  • State Public Defenders Office
  • Department of Children and Families
  • Department of Justice

Amy Hasenberg, spokeswoman for Walker, said the same agencies will likely move into the new building “subject to final design and space studies to be conducted.”

Steven Michels, spokesman for the Department of Administration, said the governor’s project does not affect Madison state employees.

Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee, said while the current state office building needs to be replaced, he wants Milwaukee County to take the project a “step further” and submit a proposal to the state that would replace the building with one that houses both state and county offices to save more money.

“Placing the county and state in the same new & energy-efficient building will help alleviate some of those constraints saving millions that can be invested in other needs,” Bowen said in a statement.

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Molly Beck covers politics and state government for the Wisconsin State Journal.