Now: Work underway for three-hotel development downtown

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Work to build a three-hotel development project in downtown Milwaukee is underway, but the developers say the hotels won’t be ready in time for the Democratic National Convention next July.

Coralville, Iowa-based Hawkeye Hotels and Bloomington, Minnesota-based JR Hospitality announced recently that crews are nearly finished with demolition work on the site and will soon begin the construction of two new hotel buildings. Both buildings will go up on the west side of North Jefferson Street between East Michigan and East Clybourn streets.

One building will contain both a 115-room Home2 Suites and a 100-room Tru hotel, both Hilton brands, while the other will be a 116-room Holiday Inn Express, an InterContinental Hotels Group brand. Each of these brands will be a first for downtown Milwaukee.

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Samir Patel, senior development manager at Hawkeye Hotels, said the hotels are expected to open sometime between the third or fourth quarter of 2020. Although the development group considered finishing the hotels prior to the DNC next July, crews weren’t able to begin demolishing the existing buildings at the project site early enough this year due to weather conditions.

“We won’t be open by the DNC, unfortunately,” he said.

Patel added that if demolition could have started in January or February, the hotels could have, in theory, opened by July 2020.

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Plans for the hotels were first unveiled after the group in August purchased the site of two long-vacant buildings formerly owned by Johnson Controls International plc.

One of the buildings has already been demolished, while workers are about two or three weeks away from finishing demolition work on the other, Patel said. After the buildings are fully demolished, crews will begin working on the foundations of the new buildings.

Patel said the hotels should open sometime in late fall, and after about a month of operations the developers will hold an official grand opening ceremony.

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The hotel developers say they were attracted to Milwaukee because of the ongoing revitalization of its downtown and surrounding neighborhoods, such as the Historic Third Ward, which lies directly south of their project site.

“We’ve been looking at the Milwaukee market for a while; we were just looking at the right opportunity to come up,” Patel said.

Patel added he and his colleagues believe demand for hotel rooms in Milwaukee is growing and will continue to grow in the coming years.

“It is an honor to bring these three rapidly growing brands with IHG and Hilton to downtown Milwaukee,” Jay Bhakta, managing partner at JR Hospitality, said in a statement. “Guests will appreciate the proximity of these hotels to a number of major developments and The Hop streetcar system. Overall, this development will help accommodate the millions of tourists and business travelers that visit Milwaukee annually.”

Amenities at the Home2 Suites and Tru by Hilton will include a shared fitness center and indoor pool. The Holiday Inn Express will feature a 24-hour fitness center and a business center.

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