Relief for New Mexico Residents Impacted by Wild Fires Residents of New Mexico affected by recent wild fires may be eligible for a temporary suspension of their premium payments to allow continuing insurance coverage. Learn More

All Articles

Union-Led Construction Transforms Downtown Milwaukee

September 22, 2023

In the heart of the Historic Third Ward in downtown Milwaukee, union workers are busy constructing a new 31-story residential tower at 333 N. Water Street. According to Mayor Cavalier Johnson, the development will transform the city’s skyline and make the intersection, which is situated between the Milwaukee Riverwalk and the Milwaukee Public Market, one of the most dynamic in the state of Wisconsin.

333 N. Water Street tower under construction.
Ullico hosted a worker appreciation event at the construction site for a tower at 333 N. Water Street in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward.

Projects of this magnitude require years of planning and close working partnerships. The developer Hines scouted the opportunity in 2018 and turned to Ullico’s J for Jobs fund to finance the project. Notably, J for Jobs requires all their projects to be built using union labor. W.E. O’Neil, who is managing the tower’s construction, worked with local unions affiliated with the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council to supply the project’s union labor force.

At the same time, local political leaders, including Mayor Johnson and Alderman Bob Bauman, who represents the city’s 4th District where the tower is located, helped shepherd the development through the city’s governmental process. Still, none of this would be possible without the expertise of the project’s construction workers.

Workers enjoy lunch during Ullico's worker appreciation event.
Union construction workers enjoy lunch during Ullico’s worker appreciation event.

To thank these individuals for their hard work, Ullico hosted a worker appreciation event on the 6th floor of the active construction site—providing free lunches for over 250 union workers. With a panoramic view of the city behind him, Ullico Inc. President and COO, Brian Hale, led off the event’s remarks, saying “I just want you to know I appreciate how hard you work. As we go into Labor Day, people need to realize what an art it is to be able to execute projects like this. We’re here to appreciate all the good work that you all do every day.”

Speaking next, Dan Bukiewicz, President of the Milwaukee Building and Construction Trades Council, highlighted that the project was 100% union, telling the assembled workers “You’re the best in the business. You’re the safest and the best value. That’s why Ullico, O’Neil, and Hines look to you and put their trust in you to build these projects.”

Ullico's President and COO, Brian Hale, speaks to Milwaukee Union construction workers.
Ullico President and COO, Brian Hale, addresses the 100% union work force building the 333 N. Water Street tower in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Brian Barry, O’Neil’s Project Executive, and Chad Gruzalski, O’Neil’s Project Superintendent, praised the workers in equally glowing terms. Gruzalski gave a short, but impassioned speech about the progress that had been made since January of 2023. “After 8 months, we’re on the 20th floor of the tower, 6th floor of the garage, and we have interior buildouts going on as well. That’s kudos to everyone here. O’Neil couldn’t do it without every single person in this room.”

Tom D’Arcy, Senior Managing Director at Hines, complimented the workers on the progress they were making and spoke about the significance of the project for Milwaukee’s future. “A year from now, you can drive down the street with your wife or kid or your friend and say ‘I built that project.’ This building will be here for another 50 years. That is something to be proud of.”

Milwaukee Mayor, Cavalier Johnson, addresses union construction members.
Milwaukee Mayor, Cavalier Johnson, paid a visit to the job site to thank the union construction workers for their hard work.

The event also allowed Alderman Bauman and Mayor Johnson to see the project up close. After a series of meetings with architects, engineers, and lawyers discussing the tower’s development, Bauman was thrilled to see the construction site in person. “Very seldom do we get to meet the men and women who actually build these buildings … I want to personally thank you all for contributing your time, effort, and expertise to doing the job right and executing the job by design.” To conclude the event, Mayor Johnson thanked the collection of union workers for their labor and explained, “You have a friend in me. You have a partner in me. I want to see Milwaukee grow, and I know the only way that can happen is with you and with developments like this.”

Union construction worker in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
The tower under construction at 333 N. Water Street is being built by a 100% union labor force.

Cooperation is the Key

When local politicians, businesses, and union members come together, they can achieve great things. The tower at 333 N. Water Street in Milwaukee is a prime example of this dynamic in action.

This project also highlights how investments in Ullico’s J for Jobs fund, a comingled fund offered to institutional investors through The Union Labor Life Insurance Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ullico Inc., can provide not only the opportunity for risk-adjusted returns for its investors, but also the chance to create union jobs and stimulate local economies. In 2022, Ullico closed $1 billion in construction financing through J for Jobs and other commercial debt funds. Estimates suggest that construction financed by these loans will generate the creation of over 6,600 jobs and 13.4 million working hours.

Union workers eat lunch during a worker appreciation event.
Union construction workers enjoying lunch during a Ullico worker appreciation event in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ullico’s President, Brian Hale, proudly told the union workers assembled at 333 N. Water Street that when J for Jobs invests in a project, they work with people who support unions. “We lend money to union developers like Hines who hire good union contractors like W.E. O’Neil. They, in turn, hire good union workers like you all out of union halls right here in Milwaukee.”

With an eye to the future, Hale noted “We’re already looking into more deals in Milwaukee so we can keep putting union members to work.” The resulting applause suggests these construction workers are ready for the opportunity.

Separate Account J
Separate Accounts J (“the Fund”) is offered through a group annuity contract issued by The Union Labor Life Insurance Company (“Union Labor Life”) and is sold through Ullico Investment Company, LLC (Member FINRA/SIPC), both subsidiaries of Ullico Inc. The Fund will only be offered to qualified institutional and accredited investors. Investments in commercial mortgage loans secured by illiquid real estate are subject to additional risks including the potential inability of an investor to redeem units. The investment return and principal value of the Fund will fluctuate so that an investor’s units, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than original cost. In addition, fluctuations in interest rates and market volatility may limit available financing for real estate investments held by the Fund, thereby adversely affecting the value of the underlying investments, the investment return and the liquidity of the investments. Furthermore, the loan values determined could vary significantly from the prices at which the investments would sell because market prices can only be determined by negotiation between a willing buyer and seller. The ability of borrowers to repay loans issued by the Fund will typically depend upon the successful construction or operation of the related real estate project and the availability of financing. The repayment of loans issued for the construction of multifamily housing (i.e condominium loans) will generally depend on the borrower’s ability to sell the underlying housing units. There is no guarantee that Union Labor Life will attain its investment objectives. Potential investors in the Fund should carefully read the Fund Disclosure Memorandum for a description of the potential risks associated with investment in the Fund.

Economic Impact
Direct union impact figures provided by an economic impact study performed by Pinnacle Economics through input-output analysis utilizing IMPLAN modeling software. The study was performed using estimated project costs and union prevailing wage data from state departments of labor as provided by Ullico Investment Advisors, Inc. Jobs, Hours of Work and FTE figures reflect totals over the life of the project. All construction impacts are temporary in nature, and unfold as construction spending unfolds. This is an illustration of the projected economic impact of selected commercial real estate projects. All projections assume the completion of the relevant construction project which can depend on several factors including borrowers meeting all lending obligations. Projections are based on overall project costs which include the participation of Separate Account J.

Note: UIF is managed by Ullico Investment Advisors, Inc. (“UIA”) and is sold through Ullico Investment Company, LLC (Member FINRA/SIPC), both subsidiaries of Ullico Inc. UIA is a registered investment adviser with the SEC under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended (“Act”). UIF will only be sold to “accredited investors” as that term is defined in Regulation D of the Securities Act of 1933. Investment in infrastructure is speculative, not suitable for all investors, and should be undertaken only by experienced and sophisticated investors who are willing to bear the high risks of such an investment, which include, but are not limited to, lack of liquidity, restrictions on transferring ownership to the Fund, absence of information regarding valuation and pricing, and high fees and expenses. Potential investors in the Fund should carefully read the Confidential Private Placement Memorandum for a description of the potential risks associated with investment in the Fund.