New leases bring new life

Superior’s former City/County Complex — once slated to be demolished for a parking lot — is the site where 150 jobs are being created.

More than 60 percent of the building is filled, and A&L Properties expects to rent the entire premium office building, City Center, by the end of the year, said Tom Stender, who developed a partnership with A&L to save the former government building from the wrecking ball.

Businesses taking space include lawyers’ offices, engineering firms and Enbridge Energy, which has taken most of the second floor and could expand, Stender said. By the end of September, husband and wife Jorge Sanchez and Barbara Krause plan to open Le Bistro, a restaurant that will serve an American lunch menu and a continental dinner menu on the first floor of the building.

“It’s a very exciting venture — we think it’s going to be very successful. It’s location, location, location,” Krause said.

“This is a great example of a community project,” Stender said. “Lots of people were involved at many levels.”

Stender said the complex was six weeks from the wrecking ball when he contacted county officials with the vision of saving the 50,000-square-foot building.

“I like it,” said Joe Mihalek, an attorney with Fryberger, Buchanan, Smith and Frederick who moved into one of the executive suites on the third floor this week. In addition to space, tenants in the third floor suites can get secretarial and technological services without hiring a staff and buying equipment.

The project might have failed if A&L Properties hadn’t become involved, Stender said. A&L is managing building leases.

“If this building had been torn down, you wouldn’t see a 50,000-square-foot building for rent anywhere in the city,” Stender said. He estimated it would cost three times more than the $4.5 million renovation project to construct the building today.

“The building really does represent a victory for the city and also for the state of Wisconsin,” said Antonio Riley, executive director of Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Agency. “I’m told there used to be a jail on the third floor. It’s being renovated now. When it’s all done, it’s going to have some 150 high-paying jobs in the city of Superior.”

WHEDA invested about$3.6 million in federal New Market Tax Credits toward the renovation of the building. Statewide, Riley said, the agency has invested $100 million tax credits in economic development activities.

By getting the tax credits, Joel Kozlak of A&L Properties said the company was able to remodel the building correctly and still keep it affordable.

“I think we’re seeing dividends right now,” he said, adding that the structure has sufficient space to accommodate Enbridge, giving the corporation a place in Superior to accommodate its new project.

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