20 Sep 2011
Milwaukee Water Council to Create Industry Water Center

The Milwaukee Water Council is one step closer to accomplishing its mission to align the regional fresh water research community and water-related industries to establish the Milwaukee region as the World Water Hub for water research, economic development, and education with its plan to lease a large industrial building that would be converted into a research and development facility for water related businesses.

“We are talking to a large number of companies that are interested in leasing a space in the building, the idea is to create a facility where we can attract water entrepreneurs. We think we have a real game changer for the city,” said Richard Meeusen, who serves as the Water Council’s co-chairman, “It would be something very unique and would be a very powerful place.”

“A flow laboratory in the building would allow for the testing of new water-related products,” said Meeusen, who is also the president and chief executive officer of Badger Meter, a Brown Deer-based manufacturer of liquid flow measurement products.

HKS Holdings LLC, Milwaukee, is planning to buy and renovate the building at 223 W. Pittsburgh Ave. and lease it to the Milwaukee Water Council and companies in the water industry.

The developers plan to apply for new markets and federal historic renovation tax credits to cover 30 percent of the project cost and the developers are still working on agreements with private lenders for the remainder of the financing.

“The Water Council would lease an entire floor of the seven-story, 98,000-square-foot building and sublease the space to start-up and other water technology companies,” said Dean Amhaus, executive director of the Milwaukee Water Council. The project will cost an estimated $20 million.

Badger Meter Inc. and A.O. Smith Corp., both members of the Milwaukee Water Council, would lease 3,000 square feet apiece on the building’s first floor, which would feature a 50-seat auditorium, Amhaus said. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee also would have researchers on the building’s top floor, he said.

Since its formation in 2009 the Milwaukee Water Council has been widely aclaimed for its commitment to advancing knowledge and practices in water sustainability, in 2009 it was recognized as an Innovating City with the UN Compact Cities Programme and was awarded the Clean Water America ‘Water Prize’ earlier this in2011. Based on a public –private collaborative approach the Council is driven by the understanding that the complex and multilayered demand of addressing freshwater issues far exceed the boundaries of any one sector or organization but demands the talent and resources of an entire community.

With strong support from the City and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp , Amhaus said the project could trigger the development of a planned business park for water companies.

Formed earlier this year to replace the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, the WEDC has selected water technology as a target industry worthy of supporting because it has strong industry leadership a proven concentration of opportunity exists in Wisconsin and the application of state resources to the industry can make a difference.

Connected Cities