Wisconsin

Downtown hotel project faces review

Historic Loyalty Building would be converted to Hilton
The Journal Sentinel, June 8, 2011

A proposal to convert the historic Loyalty Building into a downtown hotel is to be reviewed Monday by Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission.

First MKM LLC, an investment group affiliated with hotel operator First Hospitality Group Inc., based in Rosemont, Ill., would convert the six-story Loyalty Building, 611 N. Broadway, into a 128-room Hilton Garden Inn, said James Stephenson, First Hospitality vice president of facilities.

The firm also plans to use the nearby Grain Exchange Room at the Mackie Building, 225 E. Michigan St., as the hotel’s banquet and catering facility. The Loyalty Building would include smaller meeting rooms along with guest rooms, according to the plans filed with the commission.

Stephenson declined to say when First Hospitality plans to begin the conversion work, assuming it obtains commission approval. He also declined to comment on the estimated project costs, and whether the firm has obtained financing.

First MKM in March bought the Mackie and Loyalty buildings for $1.7 million, according to assessment records. According to its Web site, First Hospitality operates about 40 hotels in the Midwest, including the Radisson Hotel in Pleasant Prairie.

Marriott developer Jackson Street Management plans to complete its purchase of the development site, and begin preparation work to demolish the buildings, within 30 to 60 days, spokesman Evan Zeppos said Wednesday. The hotel will take 18 months to two years to build.

Also, Madison-area developer Gary Gorman said Wednesday he hopes to begin work by late summer on converting the former Pabst brew house and mill house, at the northwest corner of W. Juneau Ave. and N. 10th St., into a six-story, 90-room extended stay hotel and a Hofbrauhaus restaurant.

The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service has so far approved four of 30 Chinese citizens who are each providing $500,000 in equity capital for the project, Gorman said. He wants some additional approvals before starting work on the project, which will take 12 to 14 months to complete.

Both Gorman and Jackson Street Management are raising the foreign capital through the federal government’s EB-5 program. That program allows a foreign citizen to obtain a U.S. residency visa by investing at least $500,000 that creates 10 jobs in a U.S. project or business.