MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee officials say they hope nearly $1 million in proposed improvements to an underused business park will attract more tenants.

The plan for Park Place business park includes a new research facility for A.O. Smith Corp., grants to attract more businesses, and upgrades to the road and sidewalks, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported .

Park Place has 1.5 million square feet (140,000 square meters) of office space spread across about two dozen buildings, the largest amount outside of downtown Milwaukee. The park was created more than 30 years ago in response to suburban developments that were taking companies away from the city.

A report from the Department of City Development said many of the park’s buildings are underused with occupancy rates between 44 percent and 65 percent.

“This particular office complex certainly could use a shot in the arm,” said Ald. James Bohl, whose district includes Park Place.

The improvements would be repaid by property taxes from the research facility over more than 10 years.

“It’s a good sign for Park Place to have new construction happening at this visible corner,” Dan Casanova told members of City Council’s zoning committee. The committee endorsed both the new research facility and the financing proposal last week.

Park officials said they also hope to attract more retail and restaurant options to improve the park’s appeal.

The nearby Woodland Prime office park in Menomonee Falls has a 90 percent occupancy rate, Casanova said. Many businesses have moved there because of the area’s lower property taxes, he said.

Park officials said the area still has the advantage of being centrally located, which can make it easy for employees to commute to the park from throughout the Milwaukee area.

City Council plans to review the financing proposal for the improvements in September.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com