Wisconsin Center District wants update on 4th and Wisconsin proposals

Nexus project includes financing request from district

Rendering of Nexus

Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 05:00 pm

The Wisconsin Center District has asked the city of Milwaukee for a meeting to discuss the two development proposals for the vacant site at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue in downtown Milwaukee.

Rendering of Nexus
Rendering of Nexus

Marcus Hotels & Resorts and Milwaukee-based hotel development firm Jackson Street Holdings LLC have both submitted proposals to develop the 2-acre site.

Jackson Street’s $279.6 million proposal, to be called Nexus, includes three hotels totaling 506 rooms, 103,000 square feet of meeting space and 22,000 square feet of street-level restaurants, bars and cafés at the site.

Under the Nexus proposal, the Wisconsin Center District would fund and own the convention and meeting facilities. The district owns and operates the Wisconsin Center convention center.

It is unknown if the Marcus proposal is requesting funding from the Wisconsin Center District. Marcus has not publicly revealed its plan; however, officials with VISIT Milwaukee who have been briefed on the Marcus proposal, say it could include a hotel with up to 500 rooms.

“What happens (at Fourth and Wisconsin) does have an effect on the district,” said Scott Neitzel, chairman of the Wisconsin Center District board. “There are a number of things (necessary for funding) to occur. We need to be involved to know what the city is thinking.”

In a letter to Rocky Marcoux, commissioner of the Department of City Development, dated Nov. 14, Neitzel asked for a meeting between him and district board CEO Russ Staerkel to discuss the proposals.

Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said the letter was “well received” by the city and the future would depend on which proposal is chosen by the city.

DCD officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The district has hired Manhattan Beach, Calif.-based Barrett Sports Group to do an analysis of its operations, including the convention center. The report is expected to be completed by the February board meeting and will take into account sources of competition already in existence for the district and in the near future.

“As the entertainment and hospitality market in Milwaukee continues to evolve, it is critical that the district have an opportunity to provide input on proposals that may directly or indirectly impact district operations in the interest of ensuring the long-term economic success of the district,” Neitzel said. “We just want to make sure the city is aware of what our needs are and our objectives and we are aware of their needs and their objectives so we can come up with a solution that fits our mutual objectives.”

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