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American Family plans to overhaul Milwaukee building in move from Pewaukee

The 110-year-old Mandel Graphic Solutions building stands at 1319 N. Doctor Martin Luther King Dr., in Milwaukee. American Family Insurance announced plans on Thursday to move into the building following a renovation and addition project. (Staff photo by Nate Beck)

The 110-year-old Mandel Graphic Solutions building stands at 1319 N. Doctor Martin Luther King Dr., in Milwaukee. American Family Insurance announced plans on Thursday to move into the building following a renovation and addition project. (Staff photo by Nate Beck)

American Family Insurance plans to move hundreds of employees from Pewaukee to a new office in downtown Milwaukee, the company announced on Thursday.

Within the next three years, American Family plans to renovate and add on to the 110-year-old Mandel Graphic Solutions building, 1319 N. Doctor Martin Luther King Dr., to accommodate 400 employees, according to a news release. The company’s decision to move to a new Milwaukee office comes after it had bought the naming rights to Miller Park in January and completed the construction of a nine-story office building in Madison last year.

Plans for this latest project are still in their early stages. American Family intends to select an architect and construction manager for the project and complete designs in the next six to 12 months, said Ken Muth, a spokesman for the company. It could take another 18 to 24 months to complete the construction of the office, and American Family expects the project to wrap up within three years.

The company plans to add two floors to the five-story, 94,000-square-foot building, giving it 120,000 square feet of work space. Muth said the total project costs will become better known as the construction plans take shape.

“We’re excited about Milwaukee’s revitalization and want to be part of it,” said Jack Salzwedel, American Family Insurance chair and CEO, in a statement. “With our new downtown location and increased involvement in the community, we plan to join others in the economic rebirth of Milwaukee and help the city become more equitable, healthy and sustainable.”

The Mandel building was built in 1909 for the Phoenix Hosiery Company, which manufactured silk stockings. For years, it was also used as a print shop for Mandel Graphic Solutions.

The building will be owned by a joint venture formed by American Family and AB Acquisition, the current owner of the building. The insurance company will pay to renovate the building and will occupy it and lease it once construction wraps up. It will then have an option to renew the lease in 10 years.

Once the project is complete, American Family plans to move the 200 or so employees that work in its Pewaukee office to its new location in Milwaukee. Muth said the firm owns its Pewaukee location, and will work to sell the building.

Separatley, American Family Insurance completed the construction of a nine-story, $55 milllion building called The Spark on Madison’s east side in October 2018. J.H.Findorff & Son was the general contractor on that project.

About Nate Beck, nbeck@dailyreporter.com

Nate Beck is The Daily Reporter's construction staff writer. He can be reached at (414) 225-1814 (office) or 414-388-5635 (mobile).

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