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Wauwatosa's Innovation Park lands its first private development

Jan. 9, 2013

The UWM Real Estate Foundation announced late Tuesday that Zilber Property Group and ABB Inc., a power and automation technologies company, have entered into an agreement to build a 95,000-square-foot building in Innovation Park, off Watertown Plank Road in Wauwatosa.

The new location, on the western portion of the campus, will house ABB's businesses operating in southeast Wisconsin, and is expected to bring 350 jobs, including more than 100 engineers and scientists, according to a statement.

The agreement represents the first private-sector development at the University of Wisconsin's Innovation Campus, designed to provide industry and academia a setting for collaboration and research.

The three-story building is valued at $13.5 million, according to a presentation by city Finance Director John Ruggini.

The ABB Group of companies operates in more than 100 countries and employs about 145,000 people. In Wisconsin, it is primarily involved in low- and medium-voltage drives, low-voltage products and power electronics.

ABB's decision to build a new facility "is based on the significant growth of these businesses at ABB's Glendale Avenue site in New Berlin, and the addition of more than 200 jobs there over the last three years," the statement said.

The choice of site and the opportunity to work with faculty and students from UWM is similar to an arrangement the company has in Raleigh, N.C., where it has facilities at Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University, the statement said.

"We are thrilled to have the opportunity to partner with ABB on our Innovation Campus," said Michael Lovell, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, in a statement. "I have had the opportunity to work with other divisions of ABB in the past and know firsthand how partnering with ABB will bring new and exciting collaborative opportunities for our students and faculty."

Construction of the new building is expected to begin this spring, with anticipated occupancy about a year later, pending lease finalization and public approvals.

ABB will join the UWM's Innovation Accelerator building, which is being constructed with grant funding from the federal Economic Development Administration. That project is expected to break ground about the end of the month.

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