By Rick Cohler
HOWARD – Middleton development firm T. Wall Enterprises has purchased the former AMS building at 3100 Ams Blvd. in Howard for $4.5 million.
One of the largest buildings in Brown County, it was constructed in 1993 to be the corporate headquarters of American Medical Security Inc, which was acquired by UnitedHealth Group in 2004.
With the COVID-19 pandemic changing working protocols, about three-quarters of their employees started to work from home and, in turn, United Health moved 1,000 employees to a new, smaller facility in De Pere.
The entire property totals more than 43 acres and was sold through auction which ended on Nov. 30.
President and CEO Terrence Wall said that his firm developed City Deck Landing in downtown Green Bay; is one of the top five largest developers of apartments in Wisconsin; and previously was the largest developer and owner of office buildings in Wisconsin.
“We’ve also developed and owned five retail centers and an industrial park along with the largest residential community in Wisconsin under development (The Community of Bishops Bay, awarded first place as the best new community in the U.S. by the National Home Builders Association),” Wall stated.
The firm was attracted to the AMS property because of its size and the land available.
“It offers nice economies of scale and the ability to create a really nice village or community atmosphere,” he continued. “We are looking at creating a resort-like, multi-family community with a lot of amenities and services.”
While the building would be mostly apartments, Wall said they are exploring ways to include a few commercial services on the first floor such as dentist, doctor’s offices, chiropractor, physical therapy, a mini-store, a little coffee shop, wine bar, hair salon and a small financial institution (bank or credit union.) These would account for less than 5% of the total space.
A list of amenities is also being considered: a game room with card tables, community room with kitchen and a self-dispensing wine bar, a communal table in there for group dinners, a golf simulator,sauna, pool and hot tub outside, shared office space with an adjacent business center for residents to use, a library for private reading, theaters, a piano that renters can use, fitness center (with physical therapy adjacent), a sculpture in the center of the pool, a place for shade around the pool with covered canopies and a couple of guest micro units to rent out to family and friends of residents.
Wall said the donut shape of the building will limit the number of apartments to about 200, but they will be larger than normal.
“Ironically, while inefficient, the shape and design will make it a really cool place to live,” he said.
Significant interior renovation is also needed in the 25-year-old structure to bring it up to code, Wall added.
This will include tearing out drywall and installing new electrical to meet the code for apartments, Wi-Fi, entirely new HVAC systems, a new roof eventually, removing and replacing all the glass windows, building out the apartments inside along with all the amenities, building out the commercial spaces.
Wall’s long term plans include building a new apartment building every couple years in the existing parking lots. He also anticipates providing on-site management and full-time maintenance personnel.
“I could see us creating a really cool village within Howard that would create a lot of new tax base,” he said. “The additional residents would help support the retail zone that is a couple blocks to the east as well.”
Wall estimates it will probably take a year to get the necessary approvals and construction documents, then another year to build. He estimates another 10 years for full build out of other buildings on the site.
Howard Village President Burt McIntyre said he is excited by the purchase and the possibilities which lie ahead.
Not only will the development significantly add to the village’s tax base, he said it will add to the overall community feel, especially as Howard is set to open the Arnold and Gloria Schmidt Pavilion, a space that can host farmers markets in the summer and then become a skating rink in the winter. This will be complemented by an amphitheater, biergarten, splash pads and an activity center.
*Photo courtesy of Ten-X