Ambassador Hotel plans $25 million expansion

Richard Wiegand, the owner of The Ambassador Hotel, a 133-room historic hotel located at 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee, is planning a $25 million expansion project.
The Wiegands are seeking tax exempt bonds for the project through the city of Milwaukee’s Redevelopment Authority, which will consider the request at a meeting on Thursday. The city can make the bonds available for projects, but the borrowed money must be paid back by the developer.
The Ambassador Hotel expansion project consists of four parts: an 8-story, 42,000-square-foot elevated connection between the hotel and an apartment building to the west; remodeling of the 7-story, 60-unit apartment building into 46 two-room hotel suites; a skywalk connecting the remodeled building to the hotel’s parking structure; and a fitness and spa area that will be added to the north side of the existing hotel building.
The Ambassador Hotel was built in 1927. The Wiegands completed an extensive restoration of the building in 2005 and completed construction of the parking structure about a year ago.
One of the most important elements of the expansion project is the addition of 25,000 square feet of meeting and banquet space in the structure that will be built to connect the current hotel to the apartment building that will be remodeled into suites, Richard Wiegand said. The connection structure will be elevated to allow cars to drive underneath for drop-offs or to get to the parking structures. The connection structure will have meeting and banquet rooms stacked in several levels with the main meeting/banquet room on the 8th level. That room will be able to accommodate up to 300 people.
“It’s necessary to have meeting and banquet space to drive our room and our food and beverage departments,” Wiegand said. “We’re getting a lot of requests for this meeting space from corporate clients as well as the leisure market.”
The sluggish economy is a good time for a hotel expansion project, Wiegand said.
“Now’s the time to build so hopefully when it’s done things are cooking again,” he said.
Construction is expected to begin in the fall and be complete by the spring of 2012.
The expansion project is expected to create 68 jobs at the hotel, including 50 full-time jobs. The hotel currently has 89 employees.
The hotel has attracted visitors that like its location near downtown Milwaukee, but also in close proximity to Miller Park, Marquette University, the MillerCoors brewery and Potawatomi Bingo Casino, Wiegand said.

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