Developers to convert historic warehouse building near Fiserv Forum into boutique hotel

Aiming to have 40-room hotel open by DNC

The original William P. Froehlich Paper Warehouse.

Last updated on June 27th, 2019 at 11:42 am

Local hotel developers Karl Rajani and Patrick Prabhu have purchased the historic building at 419 W. Vliet St. in downtown Milwaukee, two blocks north of Fiserv Forum, and plan to convert the building into a boutique hotel.

The three-story, 131-year-old warehouse building will be known as Lofts Hotel Downtown Milwaukee. Specifically, the developers are looking to possibly license the hotel under the Trademark by Wyndham brand, Prabhu said in an interview.

The hotel will have at least 40 loft-style rooms, although that number could reach up to 50 depending on final development plans, Prabhu said. Preliminary plans call for adding a fourth story to the building, since they will likely need to replace the existing roof structure, Prabhu added.

“We hope to be ready by the Democratic (National) Convention, but the timing is very tight,” he said.

The developers have submitted an application for a zoning change with the city that would permit the building to be used as a hotel. Assuming the Common Council approves their request, construction is expected to commence by the end of June.

The 7,500-square-foot building was constructed in 1888, and was built in the Second Empire architectural style. Its original owner was a rag and paper merchant named William P. Froehlich, according to the developers. They also pointed out building features such as high ceilings and masonry construction.

It was purchased last year by serial entrepreneur Jeffrey Koenig, who at the time planned to gray box the property for a potential tenant. He envisioned a speakeasy or wine bar in the lower level, a first-floor restaurant, second floor event space and a rooftop bar and deck.

Rajani and Prabhu are experienced hoteliers who also own the Hotel of the Arts, also known as the Days Inn & Suites, at 1840 N. 6th St., as well as the Milwaukee Travelodge, formerly known as the Milwaukee Airport Inn, at 1716 W. Layton Ave. They are also developing a hotel about 3.5 miles from Camp Randall Stadium in Madison.

“Unlike our Days Inn & Suites just up the street, we intend to position the Lofts Hotel Downtown Milwaukee as a mid-scale property, in-between the economy and luxury categories,” Prabhu said in a news release.

The two developers are lifelong Milwaukee residents, and noted they are excited about the development opportunities created by the Fiserv Forum.

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