By Corrinne Hess
July 6, 2017 - A large portion of the Caterpillar campus in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin is for sale for $15 million.
The entrance to Caterpillar Inc.’s South Milwaukee complex sits at 1100 Milwaukee Ave., adjacent to the city’s downtown. It was the home of mining equipment manufacturer Bucyrus International Inc. before that company was acquired by Caterpillar in 2011.
The complex, which once employed 10 percent of the city’s population, is tightly nestled between Milwaukee, 10th and Rawson avenues, stretching three long blocks from east to west and six blocks north to south in the heart of the city.
Of the 76 acres that Caterpillar occupies, the company still owns approximately 43.5 acres. The remaining 32.5 acres are owned by One Liberty Properties Inc., a real estate investment firm based in Great Neck, New York.
The campus is split in two by Rawson Avenue, with the pieces referred to as “north of Rawson” and “south of Rawson.” Caterpillar owns two properties “north of Rawson,” a 36.6-acre parcel at 1118 Rawson Ave. and a 2.2-acre parcel at 1100 Rawson Ave. that contains an office building and many of the original Bucyrus buildings.
The 32.5 acres south of Rawson are now listed for sale by Colliers International|Wisconsin. The property includes eight buildings with 519,712-square-feet of industrial space and 230-square-feet of office space.
Caterpillar spokeswoman Lisa Miller said there were no updates to provide on the company’s operations in South Milwaukee and the Caterpillar owned portion of the campus is not for sale.
Last spring, Peoria, Illinois-based Caterpillar confirmed plans to move engineering operations from South Milwaukee to Arizona as part of the creation of a central hub for its surface mining and technology offices. As many as 200 jobs are expected to move from South Milwaukee to Arizona over the next five to seven years.
Caterpillar Inc. has reduced its global workforce by more than 14,000 employees in the past 18 months, well ahead of the pace the company announced in September 2015. In March, the company announced plans to close a machine production plant in Aurora, Ill., putting 800 people out of work.
South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks and the City Council have been working with Milwaukee-based engineering firm GRAEF since last fall to develop a master plan for the area currently occupied by Caterpillar.
“This is in the heart of our city and the heart of our downtown and we have to play an active roll,” Brooks said.
Last week, members of the M7 and WEDC toured the facility. South Milwaukee officials have also toured the former Eaton building, now known as the Century City Tower at 4201 N. 27th St.
Brooks said the city isn’t modeling the Caterpillar site after Century City, but wanted to see how older office buildings have been reused in various ways and also educate themselves about the various development opportunities that could be available.
“I think we have an important voice to play here in transitioning the next generation for the Caterpillar site,” Brooks said. “Losing all of these jobs is a big concern. I don’t want to forget the toll that this has had on our city. I would much rather have Caterpillar cranking out mining machinery by the dozens than what we are facing now, but we are going to have to deal with what we have.”
Caterpillar’s mining equipment division headquarters is on Milwaukee Avenue in South Milwaukee.