Luxury hotel planned for Third Ward

Milwaukee-based development firm HKS Holdings LLC plans to develop an eight-story, 158-room Kimpton hotel in Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants announced today.

Kimpton operates a collection of luxury, boutique hotels and restaurants.

The principals for HKS Holdings are developers Tyler Hawley and Kyle Strigenz. The hotel will be built at the northeast corner of Broadway and East Chicago Street. That site is currently used as a surface parking lot.

The hotel is scheduled to open in 2015. It will be owned by Chicago Street Holdings LLC. Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants will manage the hotel operations. The hotel is being designed by Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater Architects.

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants said the hotel will have a “chef-driven, destination restaurant” on the first floor, a rooftop bar, a fitness center and “expansive” meeting space.

About five years ago, a Palomar hotel, which is one of the Kimpton brands, was planned for a mixed-use development proposed by Dallas-based Gatehouse Capital in the Park East corridor. However that project died when the capital markets dried up during the Great Recession. Gatehouse announced it was dropping the project in early 2009.

Now, four years later, Kimpton believes that the Third Ward is an ideal location for its style of hotels, said spokeswoman Aimee Grove.

“They like the more artsy, hip vibe of the (Third Ward) neighborhood and think it’s a good fit for the brand and their target audience,” she said.

Although there are already three hotels under construction in and near downtown Milwaukee, Kimpton believes there is a lack of upscale boutique properties in the city, other than the Iron Horse, Grove said.

A 90-room boutique hotel, called the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, is under construction at the former Pabst brewery. Also under construction: a 205-room Marriot hotel at 323 E. Wisconsin Ave. downtown and a 381-room hotel at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in the Menomonee Valley, near downtown. A 127-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel opened downtown in November at 611 N. Broadway.

However, there are no hotels currently located in the Historic Third Ward. The new hotel also will be an asset for Summerfest and the other festivals along the lakefront.

“The Third Ward has been looking for a hotel for a long time,” said Ron San Felippo, past president of Historic Third Ward Association. “I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm for it. It’s another element toward us become a full-service neighborhood.”

Kimpton is expanding its footprint from the largest markets in the country to other markets such as Milwaukee, Grove said. The chain also is adding hotels in San Antonio and Cleveland, she said.

“We’re seeing a growth demand for our style of boutique hotels in the market and have been attracted to Milwaukee for some time,” said Kimpton chief executive officer Mike Depatie. Kimpton currently has 58 hotels and 67 restaurants, bars and lounges in 24 cities, including four hotels in Chicago and one in Minneapolis.

“We’re thrilled to be growing our Kimpton footprint in the Midwest. Milwaukee, in particular the Third Ward and its eclectic and artistic character, fits perfectly with our hotel collection,” Depatie said.

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