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City aid for Northwestern Mutual plan to bring 2,000 employees downtown heads to committee review

Chuck Quirmbach
Big changes may be in store for this part of the Northwestern Mutual campus in downtown Milwaukee.

A plan to relocate almost 2,000 Northwestern Mutual employees from the suburb of Franklin to downtown Milwaukee will go before city committees.

The life insurance and wealth management company says as part of its $500 M effort to redevelop its campus along E. Wisconsin Ave., it's "doubling down on downtown."

The city of Milwaukee is offering to help with a $30 M tax incremental financing district (TIF.) That's where the city's investment is expected to be paid back through higher property taxes.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson says the company is the one taking a financial risk.

"But, we're happy to be a partner here to leverage that and have $ 500 M total, half a billion dollars, of new investment in Milwaukee that's going to bring thousands of jobs," Johnson tells WUWM.

The number of Northwestern Mutual jobs downtown could approach 6,000 by the end of the decade. Johnson says he's not worried about congestion.

"Our team over at the Department of City Development obviously worked in conjunction with them on this as well. So, I feel very confident in our ability to be able to host this additional density," Johnson says.

Milwaukee's Redevelopment Authority is expected to start its review of the city's and insurance company's plans at a meeting Feb. 16.

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018. He focuses his longform stories on health, innovation, science, technology, transportation, utilities and business.