EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
The former First National Bank & Trust Building on 1st Street has been purchased by KK Integrated Logistics and will become the company's new base of operations by the end of the month.
 
EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard

The former First National Bank & Trust Building on 1st Street has been purchased by KK Integrated Logistics and will become the company's new base of operations by the end of the month.

 

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MENOMINEE — A business agreement between KK Integrated Logistics (KKIL) and Johnson Controls International (JCI) will bring big changes to the riverfront and to Menominee’s Historic Downtown.

Cynthia A. Kuber, president of KKIL, said Thursday the company has been working with JCI for more than eight months to find a single location to house all of its warehousing and distribution services, which are currently “under multiple rooftops.”

KKIL bid on and was awarded the project, she said. “Really almost as a concept, a plan of where we would build it and what it would look like.”

Kuber said KKIL looked at locations in both Marinette and Menominee before coming up with an idea to bring the JCI warehousing, distribution and connected business offices, to Menominee.

Within 90 days, that new location will be in KKIL’s current office and warehouses on 4th Street, along the Menominee River, along with several 70,000-square foot additions to the current warehouse facility.

“This is the one that made the most sense, and we could get it done and it still provided JCI with what they needed,” Kuber said.

To make that happen, Kuber said the decision was made to move her company’s offices to a “new” location — the former First National Bank & Trust Building on the corner of 10th Avenue and 1st Street.

KKIL had already started construction on Phase 7 of its current warehouse facility, but put a halt to the project when it became part of the plan to move JCI into the building. Kuber said that was because JCI has specific requirements for its warehouse and distribution space. They needed more space, “because they were in one of their buildings and four of ours, and that’s what is coming together.”

The plan now is to remodel the existing Phase 6 section of the building, complete construction of Phase 7 in the next 75 days and build another 70,000-square-foot space (Phase 8), which is now under construction. Along with turning over the existing offices (4,000 square feet), KKIL will construct additional offices (4,500), creating a space for Johnson Controls with warehouse footage that comes in around 210,000 total square feet. The move will gradually relocate a total of 75 employees to the Menominee location by sometime next spring.

That will mean moving warehoused materials from Phase 6 to another location, she said. That section is leased to Fincantieri Marinette Marine, so plans are being made to consolidate the material in Phase 6 with other MMC warehoused material to one location, which will mean more efficiencies for Marinette Marine, Kuber said.

The former Emerson Electric plant on 13th Street, north of 18th Avenue, was being considered for that move, as well as other warehouses owned by the company in Marinette, Menominee and Peshtigo.

While KKIL has owned the Emerson building for about 12 years, and continues to work on and make significant repairs as well as utilizing it for storage, Kuber said, the purchase of the former First National Bank Building just happened a month ago.

“It was actively for sale,” Kuber said of the First National Bank & Trust Building, a cornerstone of the historic downtown. First National Bank & Trust became MFC First National Bank and eventually, Wells Fargo, before it closed the downtown office several years ago. Kuber said there are currently four tenants in the building, and two will stay in the facility.

“We are remodeling the inside,” she said of the structure that has historic significance and stature in the downtown.

“I have always loved that building,” she confessed. Kuber said she and her parents all have loved the building and she has had her eye on it since she moved back to Menominee.

KKIL did some remodeling to change the layout a bit to move the 20-25 people who work in the current office to the bank building by Sept. 26. There are plans to do more work on the structure after the move. 

Most of the offices will be in the “south” building, which is an addition to original structure. “Eventually, we are going to be utilizing the actual bank lobby ... for employee events and meetings, and also probably do some community events,” she said.

Kuber said her family is enjoying the renovation and move, but added, “Our team was so excited.”

“I was not sure how they would react to the news and they were so receptive ... so excited to be in the downtown area,” she said. “I’ve gotten emails and phone calls from people in the area thanking us for moving our offices down there.”

There has been a lot of planning and there is still a lot of work to be done, and many people and products will shift and move over the next few months, “but, at the end of the day, it was the best solution for JCI,” Kuber said.

KKIL will still maintain its port on the Menominee River, and operate its warehouses and Great Lakes Foods from the new offices.

KKIL employs a total of about 160 people at its multiple locations.

Monday evening, the Menominee City Council will act on a request from KKIL for an Industrial Facilities Tax Exemption for the Phase 7 project, which is estimated to cost $1.3 million. The Finance Committee made the recommendation to approve the request, which would go through a public hearing and council approval before being forwarded to the State of Michigan for approval. The abatement would reduce the taxes on the new addition by 50 percent over a 12-year period, with the exception of the State Education Tax.