Kalan Haywood planning $75 million redevelopment of former Sears site in central city

Could include boutique hotel, offices, market-rate housing and public market

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Milwaukee developer Kalan Haywood is planning a multi-phase $75 million development at the former Sears store building in Milwaukee’s central city that includes a boutique hotel, offices and market-rate housing.

The redevelopment concept at the sprawling 6.5-acre parcel at 2100 W. North Ave. would be financed with multiple sources, including a possible tax increment financing district provided by the city, said Haywood, president of Haywood Group LLC.

If successful, Haywood’s redevelopment could be a catalyst for redevelopment of the neighborhood, which is only a four-minute drive from the new $524 million Milwaukee Bucks arena, but has struggled with poverty.

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Since purchasing the three-story, 216,000-square-foot building for $1.5 million in February, Haywood has been meeting with community members to seek input about what would best fit in the neighborhood.

About 24 tenants also had to be relocated, he said.

“It took a while to get to this point,” Haywood said. “We have been exploring what is there now and what could attract dollars to (West Fond Du Lac Avenue and West North Avenue) and give people jobs. One concept was the hotel.”

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The first phase of Haywood’s project will be a 90-room boutique hotel similar to Hotel Metro or the Iron Horse Hotel, he said. It will include a restaurant and rooftop deck. The hotel will include four conference rooms ranging in size from 4,500 square feet to 10,000 square feet, Haywood said.

Haywood also plans to construct an 800- to 1,000-spot parking structure adjacent to the hotel, west of the Sears building.

He has been meeting with city officials on the project to discuss financing for the initial phase, which will cost $50 million. Rocky Marcoux, commissioner for the Department of City Development, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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Haywood anticipates several sources of capital for the project. When he converted the Germania Building in downtown Milwaukee from offices to apartments, the project had 10 sources of capital, including a TIF.

Haywood said community members have also reached out and asked to be a part of the development.

“I haven’t used outside investors in the past, but the community wants to be part of the deal,” Haywood said. “I’m exploring how to allow them to be investors. We will be super creative on financing.”

Phase two, which is still conceptual, would include a mixture of office buildings and approximately 40 market-rate housing. Haywood is also considering a north side public market that would mimic the Milwaukee Public Market in the Historic Third Ward.

The site would include green space for walking and a possible small miniature golf course for hotel residents and conference center attendees.

Phase two will cost approximately $25 million, Haywood said.

“I told the mayor I want him to have the State of the City address at the hotel in 2020, but that might be wishful thinking,” Haywood said.

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