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GOING POSTAL: Chicago developer sues to evict USPS from downtown Milwaukee office.

Byline: Nate Beck,

A Chicago developer has filed papers to evict the U.S. Postal Service from its office in downtown Milwaukee, arguing the postal service has let the1.1 million-square-footbuilding fall into disrepair.

R2 Companies, which owns the building at 344 W. St. Paul Ave., filed eviction papers against the USPS in Milwaukee County Circuit Court last week. The postal service,the firm argues in a complaint, failed to repair a leaky roof, crumbling concrete and other defects found in an inspectionin September and has offered little assurance that it will do the needed work.

The USPS has occupied the building since 1970, and has renewed its 30-year leasefour times since 2000, according to court papers. The current lease on the property expires March 31, 2020, and the USPS has paid $1.8 million a year worth of rent for most of its time occupying the office.R2 Companies and Polsky Holdings, also of Chicago, bought the property in October 2015 for $13 million.

In a series of tweets on Tuesday evening, Matt Garrison, R2 managing principal, said the firm has been prodding the USPS to make needed repairs for about five months. The postal service has not provided the company with its repair plans, he said. According to the terms of its lease, the USPS is responsible for the upkeep of thefour-storybuilding.

We have filed an eviction against our 1.1 million square foot tenant at 345 St. Paul, the Milwaukee Post Office. (1/5)

Matt Garrison (@condoshark) August 29, 2018

Garrison also said the company plans to overhaul the building once the USPS is gone. The company released a proposal in 2016 calling for a $100 million project that would bringoffices, restaurants and retail space to the building, which stands near the Menominee River, walking distance of Milwaukee's Third Ward.

"Since it appears that the USPS is unwilling/unable to perform under the terms of the lease, we are seeking to remove them and begin renovations of the property," Garrison said in a tweet. "As one of the most visible structures/locations in (Milwaukee), this building deserves better."

AUSPS spokesman declined to comment Wednesday morning; officials with R2 could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to court papers, EMCOR Facilities Services, a firm contracted by the USPS to manage the buildings it occupies, found various defects in the Milwaukee building during an inspection of it in September 2017. The company found "grass, moss, plants, bird droppings and debris" covering the roof, in addition to a leak on the roof's north side.

Officials from R2 toured the property in early March, finding further damage, including "obvious" signs of concrete deterioration on the building's east parking ramp, according to court papers.

The USPS had then taken no steps to deal with the damage. R2 officials sent a letter to the USPS asking it to make the needed repairs. The USPS responded only after a lawyer representing R2 made an eviction threat in a letter dated July 10. A lawyer for the USPS wrote in an email to the company the next day that the postal service was "looking into taking action to remedy the breach."

Weeks then went by without further word the USPS, prompting R2 on Aug. 21 to seek an eviction order. R2 is being represented by Averi Niemuth, of the Milwaukee-based firm Quarles and Brady. The USPS has not yet registered an attorney in the case. A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2.

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Publication:The Daily Reporter
Geographic Code:1U3WI
Date:Aug 29, 2018
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