By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 21, 2020 at 11:57 AM

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Even as the coronavirus continues to do its damage to the economy, a couple development announcements have emerged to offer hope for the future.

First, Forward Space, LLC – a Chicago-based Steelcase office furniture dealer and women-owned business – has announced it will renovate a building for its new Milwaukee location on the Kinnickinnic River in Milwaukee’s Harbor District, near where the Michels R1ver development is already rising.

Forward Space has hired 20 Milwaukee-area employees and have tapped RINKA architects to renovate the interior of the former Paul Davis Restoration office building, 2000 S. 4th St.

Forward Space has already opened a warehouse and office at 1966 S. 4th St., near the new site, and a small showroom at 1300 N. 7th St., near the Fiserv Forum.

"When we began touring real estate options last fall, this site very quickly stood out to us, it really checked all the boxes. From an on-site warehouse, easy freeway access, plenty of parking and proximity to downtown and the Third Ward, to the outdoor green space, boat slip and river views," said Elizabeth Lewis, Forward Space VP of Sales for the Milwaukee region, in a statement.

"The Harbor District is really ‘what’s next’ in Milwaukee and our team is excited to be part of the revitalization and development of this great area, as well as to putting down our roots here and starting our next chapter."

The new office and showroom will include a social kitchen, employee work café, mezzanine, glass garage doors leading to outdoor work and event areas and a riverfront patio, a meditation/wellness room, flexible and mobile workstations and collaboration settings, "customer oasis," a meeting area with glass-walled conference rooms and phone booths for teleconferencing, and individual rooms that will showcase education and healthcare furniture.

"Our new location will truly be a destination for our employees, clients, industry partners and the business community," said Forward Space CEO and principal owner Jenny Niemann. "We even have a boat in the plans, to host customer meetings on the water and for our employees to enjoy during the summer months."

Last week, Chicago’s M&R Development announced that it has started work building its first rental property in the state, a 236-apartment building at 4200 S. Lake Dr. in St. Francis.

The project, called 4200 On the Lake, is expected to begin welcoming tenants in spring of 2021.

"We’ve always had one eye on the Milwaukee area, especially the stretch that runs south of the city to the airport – good job growth, easy access to I-94, great lake views – as it checks a lot of boxes," said Anthony Rossi, Sr., managing partner of M&R Development, in a statement.

"In fact, we looked at this site 20 years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. You only get one chance to build your first project in a different state, so we wanted to make sure we did it right. Our patience paid off. We secured the best parcel on this site, perched on a bluff with incredible views of Lake Michigan to the east and the city to the north."

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.