Deer District hotel nets city panel endorsement

Nine-story hotel would have 205 guest rooms

Rendering: Gary Brink & Associates Inc.
Rendering: Gary Brink & Associates Inc.

A new nine-story hotel that would be built directly north of the Fiserv Forum received an initial city endorsement Monday afternoon.

Madison-based North Central Group has teamed up with the Bucks to develop the hotel in the Bucks’ Deer District, northwest of West Juneau and North Vel R. Phillips avenues in downtown Milwaukee.

It would contain 205 guest rooms, two restaurants, 8,700 square feet of meeting and event space and some retail space. One restaurant and lounge would be located on the southeast corner of the first floor, while another restaurant, lounge and entertainment space would go on the top floor. The retail space would be at the southwest corner of the first floor.

Two balconies on the second floor would serve as pre-function areas. The top-floor bar would also include a terrace that overlooks the Deer District.

Milwaukee’s City Plan Commission met on Monday to approve a rezoning request for the hotel.

Andy Inman, North Central Group vice president of development, said the hotel would operate under Marriott International’s Autograph Collection.

“What’s neat about the Autograph is their ethos is to be exactly like nothing else, meaning each property has a distinct brand and it’s unique to the local area and market,” Inman said.

A formal name for the hotel is forthcoming, he said. It will pay homage both to Milwaukee’s history as a fur trading post and to the trades workers who built the city, Inman added.

Rendering: Gary Brink & Associates Inc.
Rendering: Gary Brink & Associates Inc.

The project will create 100 permanent job and more than 100 construction jobs.

It will temporarily rely on the existing parking ramp to the west for guest parking. The long-term plan is for guests to park in a different parking structure that is to be built directly north of the hotel on the same development block.

The development team is moving forward amid a severe hotel market downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The team said the market should be recovered by the time this hotel comes online. They’ve previously said the hotel is slated to open mid-2023.

Stephanie Bloomingdale, City Plan Commission chairwoman, said it was “heartening” to see the developers moving forward despite the economic headwinds.

“I want to thank you for presenting this project to us,” she said, “particularly at this time in our collective history with the pandemic, when hotels have been hit so hard and all the people that work for the hotels have been hit so hard.”

The project also had the hearty endorsement of Department of City Development staffers.

“(The proposal) struck us right away that this was going to be just an incredibly high-quality facility, an important thing to anchor this portion of the Deer District,” Sam Leichtling, DCD planning manager, said during Monday’s meeting.

Zoning changes need ultimate approval from the Milwaukee Common Council.

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Alex Zank
Alex Zank covers commercial and residential real estate for BizTimes. Alex previously worked for Farm Equipment magazine and also covered statewide construction news at The Daily Reporter. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where he studied journalism, political science and economics. Having grown up in rural western Wisconsin, Alex loves all things outdoors, including camping, hiking, four-wheeling and hunting.

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