Wisconsin Center District won’t be part of 4th and Wisconsin development plans

City re-issues two-year-old RFP

The 2-acre parcel at Fourth Street and Wisconsin Avenue has two proposals to redevelop it.

Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:11 pm

The city of Milwaukee has amended and re-issued its two-year-old request for proposal to develop a 2-acre parcel at Fourth Street and Wisconsin Avenue downtown to remove the Wisconsin Center District, at its request, as a partner.

The original proposal, issued in June 2016, specified that new meeting and hospitality spaces on the 4th and Wisconsin would be booked, managed and catered by the Wisconsin Center District, which owns and operates the adjacent Convention Center. Marcus Hotels & Resorts and Milwaukee-based hotel development firm Jackson Street Holdings LLC both submitted proposals to develop the site assuming this would happen.

Both proposals have been in limbo while the district mulls expanding its convention center.

Earlier this week, representatives from Marcus and Jackson Street were sent letters letting them know the RFP would be updated.

Marty Brooks, who was named president and CEO of the Wisconsin Center District in December, said after reviewing the district’s meeting and hospitality spaces, he doesn’t feel providing catering services off property would make operational sense.

“We do believe a new convention center hotel is critical to support our ideas for expansion and are interested in working with the city and any developers to ensure guests and attendees can move seamlessly between our properties,” Brooks said, adding that from a logistical standpoint, it does not make sense for the Wisconsin Center District staff to provide services to properties other than their own.

“I’ll take the blame or the credit, but our focus should be our properties and those areas we control,” Brooks said.

The long-vacant 4th and Wisconsin site, located next to the Shops of Grand Avenue and across the street from the Wisconsin Center, is located on both a proposed Milwaukee streetcar route and the proposed bus rapid transit line.

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.

Marcus Hotels & Resorts’ proposal for the site includes a 276-room expansion of the existing Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel and a tower with up to 200 apartments. The hotel expansion would bring the total number of rooms at the Hilton to 1,005 and would add 61,500 square feet of meeting space

Mark Flaherty with Jackson Street Holdings said the company is “reassessing” its proposal for the site.

Representatives from the Marcus Corp. could not immediately be reached for comment.

The city has also reopened up the RFP to other developers.

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