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Zund's North American HQ to bring hundreds of visitors to Oak Creek

Swiss manufacturer Zund America Inc. will receive $900,000 in Oak Creek financing to build its new North American headquarters near Drexel Town Square.

The estimated 50,000-square-foot office and showroom could break ground in spring, for completion by early 2019. Zund specializes in high-tech cutting machines that cut everything from decals for Harley-Davidson motorcycles to materials used in Boeing airplanes, said Chris Nicholson, Zund America vice president.

The Zund development will bring 30 to 40 workers a day to Oak Creek and its budding new downtown at Drexel Town Square. Perhaps more importantly, the facility will have hundreds of visitors coming for machine demonstrations, training or service work, Nicholson said.

Under its development agreement with Oak Creek, the company pledged to generate at least 600 hotel room nights a year with those visitors.

“Those numbers are based on what we did last year,” Nicholson said. “We had just over 600 room nights at a hotel here in Franklin, and that was from just over 1,000 visitors.”

Those visitors are a key reason Zund selected the Oak Creek site for its project. Drexel Town Square has a hotel under construction, and several restaurants within walking distance. Zund would build its offices south of Oak Creek’s city hall and library building.

“It makes us look better to offer those types of amenities while they are here,” Nicholson said. “With the number of people coming in on a weekly basis, the entertainment factor was pretty huge for us.”

Oak Creek’s Common Council on Tuesday approved a development agreement and financing package for the project. That package includes $700,000 to cover land costs. Since Zund selected the property, it discovered structural construction challenges in the soils that will require some dirt to be removed and replaced, said Andrew Vickers, Oak Creek city administrator.

Those soil challenges generated long discussions between the city, Zund and Woodman’s Food Market Inc., which would sell the land.

The city also would give $200,000 toward construction of a parking lot for Zund’s building. That lot will also provide shared parking for other activity at Drexel Town Square, Vickers said. Zund will need only about 50 parking stalls on a typical day for its operations. But the company has agreed to build about 100 in its lot.

“We’re incentivizing them to over-build their parking lot,” Vickers said. “Nights, weekends and special events at Drexel Town Square, the Zund parking lot will be open to the public.”

The money would come through a city tax incremental financing district, and be repaid by taxes generated by the anticipated $8 million in new property value Zund’s headquarters will create.

Zund still must seek city design approval for its headquarters, but Vickers and Nicholson anticipated an eye-catching design. San Fransisco architecture firm Graf & Tolosa is designing the building, with Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects as its local partner.


Sean Ryan

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