Aloft developers obtain financing

Groundbreaking expected within weeks.

The developers for the proposed Aloft hotel project in downtown Milwaukee have obtained their financing for the project, according to a spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), which is assisting the project.

"They worked with U.S. Bank on the debt side of it," said WHEDA spokeswoman Kate Venne. Groundbreaking will occur, "within the next couple of weeks," she said.

Verona-based Horizon Construction Group Inc. is the general contractor for the project. Representatives with Horizon were meeting with city officials Tuesday to discuss building permit issues for the project.

In addition to the U.S. Bank financing, the Wisconsin Community Development Legacy Fund, a partnership of WHEDA, Milwaukee-based Legacy Bancorp and Impact Seven Inc. has approved a $10 million allocation of new markets tax credits for the project.

The project also received a $750,000 brownfields grant from the state Department of Commerce and a $75,000 grant from the state Department of Natural Resources.

Also, the city of Milwaukee will provide up to $858,042 in tax incremental financing (TIF) funds for the project to pay for a portion of the cost to build a riverwalk segment, dockwall and public plaza on the property.

A new group of development partners, called Milwaukee River Hotel LLC, have taken over the project from the previous development group, consisting of Rob Ruvin and David Florsheim. Milwaukee River Hotel LLC includes Ed Carow, a partner with Milwaukee-based Wave Development LLC, which has developed several hotels. Carow could not be reached for comment.

The five-story building will have a 160-room Aloft hotel and 3,200 square feet of retail space. It will be built on a vacant site along the Milwaukee River, northeast of West Juneau Avenue and North Old World Street in the Park East corridor.

The project is expected to create 75 permanent jobs, including 15 with annual salaries of more than $30,000 and 125 construction jobs.

"Not only will this hotel play a significant role in the development of downtown and the Park East corridor, these new jobs-over 200 in both long term and interim jobs-couldn’t come at a better time for our state’s economy," said Antonio Riley, executive director of WHEDA. "The Aloft hotel will be an incredible addition to our downtown, and we couldn’t ask for better partners."

Aloft is a brand of White Plains, N.Y.-based Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. According to Starwood’s web site, the Milwaukee Aloft hotel will open on Dec. 1, 2009. Aloft hotels are also planned for Green Bay and Madison.

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