See photos: Drury is downtown Milwaukee’s newest hotel

Ribbon cutting Wednesday; soft opening was Oct. 4

Drury Hotel in downtown Milwaukee
Drury Hotel in downtown Milwaukee

Last updated on November 7th, 2019 at 01:52 pm

St. Louis-based Drury Hotels held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday morning for the new 227-room Drury Plaza Hotel in Milwaukee, the first Drury hotel in the state and the latest hotel to open its doors downtown.

The Drury hotel, located at 700 N. Water St., first started taking in guests on Oct. 4, according to hotel officials. It employs 50 workers and boasts features such as roughly 5,000 square feet of meeting space; indoor pool and whirlpool; a 24-hour business center; and a bar and dining area that serves free hot breakfast, soda, popcorn and a “kickback” menu served nightly.

Included are 11 suites, 148 rooms with king-sized beds and 68 rooms with double queen-sized beds. The meeting space is located on the second floor, and the pool and fitness area is located in the basement.

The hotel is operated in the former First Financial Centre office building, which underwent significant renovations. It was previously expected to open in late August.

The 91-year-old, 154,200-square-foot building was purchased in 2016 by Drury for $4.6 million and construction work began in 2017. The family-owned hotel chain currently owns and operates more than 150 hotels in 25 states, according to its website.

Chris Palid, general manager of the Drury Plaza Hotel, said this marks Drury’s 15th historic renovation project.

“We would choose to do a historic renovation wherever possible because the Drury family, they’ve worked as builders and they love architecture, and would hate to see a building with some historical significance torn down or not used,” he said.

The 14-story building was designed in the Art Deco style by Eschweiler & Eschweiler, according to a media advisory. Its fa├žade was covered with brick in the 1980s to give the building a more modern look.

Palid said Drury chose to open a hotel in Wisconsin because of feedback from guests. Further, downtown Milwaukee was a good choice due to all of the activity happening there.

“We choose locations based off of what our customers tell us,” he said. “So, we have a big base of properties in the central Midwest, and we’re hearing feedback from our guests and customers that they want us to have a property in Wisconsin.”

Palid added, “Milwaukee seemed like a good fit with Marquette University, the Bucks doing well, Brewers doing well and all the up-and-coming businesses.”

Mayor Tom Barrett, who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony, said Drury’s decision to locate a hotel in Milwaukee was important in the city’s successful bid to host the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

“It was our ability to show that there are hotel operators that were not only here, but interested in coming here, that persuaded them this was the best place to hold the (DNC) next year,” he said.

This may not be Drury’s only Wisconsin location for long. Barrett said the hotel operator is also considering Madison for its second hotel in the state.

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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.