Harrison Street JV Acquires Milwaukee Property

The partnership plans to convert the 120-year-old Wells Building into a state-of-the-art data center.
Wells Building. Image via Google Street View

A joint venture between Harrison Street and fifteenfortyseven Critical Systems Realty announced they have completed the acquisition of the historic Wells Building, a 165,000-square-foot carrier hotel and data center in downtown Milwaukee.

Ascendant Holdings sold the property for $7.3 million, according to public records. The asset previously changed hands in 2011, when Zilber sold it for $2.9 million. Zilber, formerly known as Towne Realty, had owned the property since 1970.

Located at 324 E. Wisconsin Ave., the 15-story building was completed in 1901. Following Ascendant’s acquisition, the company invested in a multimillion dollar capital improvement plan, replacing the HVAC systems. The property once housed Western Union Telegraph Company’s headquarters and maintains its use as a carrier hotel and data center, as well as providing office space and colocation services.

Houlihan Lokey served as the seller’s financial advisor in the deal, while Seyfarth Shaw LLP was the seller’s legal advisor.

More than 30 telecom providers are interconnected in the building, which has  “untapped network potential,” and the seller looked for a telecom-centric buyer that could unlock that value, according to prepared remarks from Houlihan Lokey. The new owner said they plan to invest in an extensive renovation plan to transform the property into a “network-dense, fully redundant and high-security data center.”

In September, Harrison Street paid $43 million to acquire Pacifica Court, a 110,400-square-foot property in Irvine, Calif., from BlackRock. The buyer partnered with Meridian and plans to repurpose the asset as medical office space.