Mick Burke / MICHAEL BURKE
Foxconn Technology Group this week closed on the purchase of 601
Lake Ave., Racine, shown here, as part of its "smart
cities" initiative. The three-story structure was built in
1912-13 as the Elks Club. At right in this photo is Memorial
RACINE — Foxconn Technology Group now owns two significant buildings in Downtown, one of them historic, as a part of its Smart City-Smart Futures initiative.
This week, Foxconn closed on the purchase of 601 Lake Ave., originally the Elks Club building, for $1.2 million.
Foxconn issued this statement about the purchase of the three-story building immediately north of Memorial Hall: “Foxconn can confirm it has purchased 601 Lake Avenue in Racine. The property will support Foxconn’s ‘Smart City’ initiatives throughout Racine and the state and will contribute to the company’s efforts to help position Wisconsin as a global hub for high-tech talent and businesses.
“Further announcements about 601 Lake Avenue will be made in due course.”
The seller of the building, now called Harborview Professional Center, is Johnson Redevelopment Corp., the real estate arm of SC Johnson. A spokeswoman for SCJ said Johnson Redevelopment had owned the building since 2002 and called the sale a “strategic business decision.”
Second Downtown building
The handsome 601 Lake Ave. building, constructed in 1912-13, is six blocks south and one block east of Foxconn’s other Downtown future acquisition, One Main Centre at 1 Main St. On Oct. 2, Alan Yeung, Foxconn’s director of U.S. strategic initiatives, announced the future purchase of 1 Main St. — the purchase has not yet closed — for an innovation center, which is to be called Foxconn Place Racine.
Foxconn will be taking the entire second floor, which is now vacant, and the south half of the first floor, which has never been occupied. Yeung said the center will help support the Taiwanese company’s future “smart city” innovations.
The Foxconn Smart City-Smart Futures initiative encourages the sharing of fresh ideas, unconventional thinking and technology to address education, healthcare, transportation and housing challenges.
A Foxconn representative said Friday the purchase of 601 Lake Ave. does not change any plans for the 1 Main St. building and Foxconn Place Racine, and said that project will move forward.
Tenants of 601 Lake Ave. have received a letter informing them that a firm called FE Lake Street is the new property owner. Rent checks are now to be sent to FEWI Development Corp., a Foxconn subsidiary based at its North American headquarters in Downtown Milwaukee.
Attorney John Bjelajac of the law firm Bjelajac & Kallenbach, a first-floor tenant at 601 Lake Ave., said his firm has a lease there through April 2020. If a relocation would be necessary, he said, he does not know where his firm would go.
Other tenants of the building include several other law offices, Wells Fargo Advisors and Clean Power.
According to the Racine Heritage Museum, the 601 Lake Ave. building was completed and dedicated in 1913 as the Elks Club, short for Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
The property first went on the market in 1973, and the city took a $1 option on the building, which gave it the right to match the highest offer on the property. However, the city gave up that option that August, citing the reason of having no money put aside. The Elks Club again offered to sell the property to the city in 1981; the city declined again because of a lack of available funds, the museum reports.
The property went on the market again in 1982, because high upkeep costs and declining Elks membership were making it impossible for the club to continue at the location.
The Milwaukee Co. bought the building in 1983 for $250,000, then renovated it as an office building which was named Harborview Professional Center.
In addition to the Lake Avenue building, Foxconn also recently bought the 91.7-acre Wilks farm at 4118 90th St., the northwest corner of 90th Street and Braun Road in the Village of Sturtevant. The site is immediately north of Foxconn’s Area III, the zone to be used for construction staging for building the Wisconn Valley Science and Technology Park, and then for future development. The property is flanked by residential neighborhoods to the north and east.
The land is currently assessed at $60,200.
Foxconn officials could not be reached for comment about the purchase Friday afternoon.
In addition to selling the former Elks Club, SCJ also made a recent acquisition, a $12 million purchase of the Horizon Retail Construction building at 1500 Horizon Drive, east of 90th Street and north of 16th Street, in Mount Pleasant. An SCJ spokeswoman declined to say the reason for the purchase of the 10-acre property, which is currently assessed at just less than $9.1 million.
Horizon Retail owner Patrick Christensen could not be reached for comment on the transaction Friday afternoon.
Note: The name Kallenbach was incorrectly spelled in the original article. It has been corrected.