A vacant state-owned parcel southeast of North 124th Street and West Bradley Road on Milwaukee's far northwest side could soon be home to a 122-room WoodSpring Suites extended stay hotel.
Wichita, Kansas-based New Era Development LLC is proposing the four-story hotel at the nearly 3-acre site, which sits next to an I-41 freeway exit ramp.
New Era recently filed an application to change the zoning at the site, which would allow the hotel to operate there. The property is now owned by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, but is marketed for sale.
Chris Stevens, managing member of New Era, said his firm expects the land sale to close toward the end of the first quarter next year. Groundbreaking would occur sometime late spring to mid-summer, he said.
If built, this would be the first Wisconsin project for New Era. Stevens said Wisconsin was one of the states WoodSpring targeted for more hotels, and New Era was particularly interested in the Milwaukee area. New Era has built eight other WoodSpring hotels in other states, he said.
Stevens said New Era selected Milwaukee chiefly because the market was not heavily reliant on a single industry, such as aviation or the military.
"We like to focus on municipalities that have multiple economic feeders from a demographic standpoint," he said.
This specific location works for a hotel because of its freeway access and the existing economic base of activity.
"We feel the existing economic climate that's there today will be adequate to our successful operation," Stevens said.
Stevens acknowledged it may seem like an odd time to be pursuing a new hotel project. The COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the hotel industry, as corporate travel, large-group gatherings and leisure travel have all slowed in the months since the outbreak.
But, extended-stay hotels have done well relative to more traditional ones throughout the pandemic, he said.
"Fortunately, WoodSpring Suites and the extended-stay aspect has really been the shining star of the hospitality segment," Stevens said.
Most WoodSpring guests are people who are staying there long term for reasons that could included extended company training sessions, schooling or being dislocated due to fires or flooding, he said, adding the hotels also cater particularly to traveling nurses.
Greg Hanis, Greg Hanis, president of New Berlin-based Hospitality Marketers International Inc., said extended-stay hotels have been doing anywhere between 15 and 20 percentage points better than traditional hotels this year, in terms of occupancy.
"I think that's typically what you're seeing around the country: Extended-stay hotels have been doing exceptionally well in this environment," he said.
Hanis categorized WoodSpring Suites as mid-priced extended stay. Compared to their counterparts — mid-priced nightly hotels — these hotels are performing roughly 10 to 15 percentage points better, he said.
The hotel development site could also stand to benefit from myriad corporate development projects just to the south. Southwest of where Good Hope Road meets I-41 is Western Building Products' new Milwaukee headquarters and warehouse. And just west of that is Menomonee Falls' Woodland Prime office park, where Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. is developing a massive corporate campus and Leonardo DRS is moving its new offices and manufacturing facility.
In fact, as part of the Milwaukee Tool project, the village plans to extend Flint Drive to Fond du Lac Avenue, not far from where Fond du Lac Avenue meets 124th Street. This would offer a more direct access point from the corporate park to the hotel.
[caption id="attachment_516378" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Rendering: BRR Architecture[/caption]