Weas scales back Third Ward hotel project

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:40 pm

Wauwatosa-based Weas Development Co. has scaled back its proposed hotel development for Milwaukee’s Historic Third Ward, and the company hopes to begin construction by March 1.

Doug Weas, president of the firm, said the project could be complete by the fall of 2008 or the spring of 2009, he said.

The $75 million development would include a 165-room hotel with an 80,000-square-foot health club, a 450-car parking garage and 13,000 square feet of retail space. The 14-story building would be built at the southeast corner of North Broadway and East St. Paul Avenue.

Originally, Weas had planned to construct a 17-story building with 40 condominiums. However, a structure that tall would have conflicted with the building standards in the Third Ward Historic District, so Weas eliminated the condos from the project and reduced the building’s proposed height to 14 stories.

The hotel would be a Renaissance ClubSport, a new upscale brand for Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott International Inc.

“We’ll be pushing the upper end of the Milwaukee market,” Weas said.

Weas is negotiating with city officials for tax incremental financing (TIF) for the $75 million project. Weas declined to disclose the amount of TIF that he is seeking. TIF is money borrowed by the city for a project and paid back by the increased tax revenue created by the development.

“Right now, I think (the TIF request) is our biggest hurdle,” Weas said. The city assistance is needed “just to make it financially viable,” he said.

Weas is in negotiations with the Historic Third Ward Association, which owns a small building at the corner of North Broadway and East St. Paul Avenue. The building would be demolished to clear space for the hotel project. In exchange, the association would own 7,000 square feet of the retail space in the building, which would be used in conjunction with the Milwaukee Public Market, which the Third Ward Association owns and is located at the northwest corner of the intersection.

The growth of the Third Ward in recent years has created a market there for a hotel there, Weas said.

“If you look at the population that’s grown there and the number of residential units, they have a service need and a need for a hotel,” he said. “Not just for Summerfest, but for their friends and family who come to visit.”

Several other hotels have been proposed for the downtown area in recent months. However, none of them are under construction yet, and Weas’ project is the only hotel planned for the Third Ward.

“I think we have a good product, and in the end, good products win,” he said. “I feel confident, even if other hotels are built, we’ll be OK.”

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