A local hotel developer says he has no set plans for a swath of vacant land on the shores of Lake Michigan that he recently purchased, though he has a few ideas of what could go there.
Vacant land just south of the Milwaukee FBI office building on Lake Drive in St. Francis has been purchased by Chief Oil DC LLC, for $1.5 million. The entity is registered to Ajit “Jay” Walia, who with his brother, Harjeet “Rick” Walia, are the former owners of the Park East Hotel in Milwaukee and also operate a number of gas stations in the area.
Walia is also developing a 135-room Staybridge Suites hotel on North Mayfair Road, just north of the Milwaukee Regional Medical Complex, in Wauwatosa. The project just received unanimous approval on Monday from the city’s Plan Commission, Walia said.
As for the newly acquired 21.5 acres in St. Francis, Walia said, “right now we don’t have any concrete plans.” He added that he’s speaking with a couple different groups who might have an interest in the site.
Walia said one of those groups has discussed putting up a regional office either in the Milwaukee or Madison area. Another group has expressed interest in a marina at the lakefront site.
If an office building were constructed at the site, Walia said he would also consider putting in some retail space as part of that development.
If a marina or office building is eventually developed at the site, Walia said he could also see a hotel being built there.
“Then it would start to make sense to build a conference center and hotel,” he said, adding that currently there is not enough traffic to warrant such a project.
Walia added he is hopeful even more attention may be brought to the site now that Milwaukee has been selected to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention. He said that will put an international spotlight on the city, possibly leading to more development activity.
The 21.5 acres of land was purchased from Lake Drive Venture II LLC, which is registered to Michael Roth, founding principal of Stark Investments. According to its website, effective Jan. 1, all of the company’s funds are now being managed by Fund Wind Down Services Limited, an entity managed by PricewaterhouseCoopers and its affiliates.
Stark Investments also owned the building next door, at 3600 S. Lake Drive, which had been its headquarters before moving out and eventually selling it to the federal government as part of plans for the FBI to move its Milwaukee office there from downtown Milwaukee.