Jeramey Jannene
Friday Photos

Westin Hotel Rising

It will add 220 high-end hotel rooms to complex anchored by state's tallest building.

By - Aug 12th, 2016 06:12 pm
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The Westin Hotel Rises in front of the US Bank Center

The Westin Hotel Rises in front of the US Bank Center

The Westin Milwaukee, a new 220-room hotel, is rising from the ground at 550 N. Van Buren St. Located just south of Milwaukee’s tallest building, the US Bank Center, the nine-story hotel will be connected by skywalks to the growing lakefront office complex.

The hotel joins 833 East, an 18-story office tower that opened earlier this year. In addition, all signs point to construction work beginning soon on The Couture, a 44-floor apartment tower to be located another block east.

Amenities at the hotel will include a fine dining restaurant, large lobby bar, fitness center, 9,000-square-feet of meeting rooms and a 5,000 square-foot ballroom.

Construction on the hotel began in February and the hotel has recently reached the height of the adjacent skywalks. When complete the hotel will be one of the first things people see when they enter the city by exiting Interstate 794 at N. Van Buren St., a welcoming sign of life over the surface parking lot and parking garage that previously greeted visitors.

General contracting services on the project are being provided by J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.. Arrival Partners, led by Doug Nysse, is serving as project planner and development consultant, with Nysse’s former firm Kahler Slater serving as the project architect. Jackson Street Holdings is the project developer.

Jackson Street Holdings is no stranger to Downtown. The firm has also developed the Aloft Hotel, Milwaukee Marriott Downtown and recently-opened SpringHill Suites Marriott. In addition, the hotel marks the third partnership between the development firm and hotel operator White Lodging Services Corp. Jackson Street Holdings is led by Ed Carow, Randy Erkert and Mark Flaherty.

The site for the hotel was created from a 2010 redevelopment of the US Bank Center parking garage. That garage was pushed to the southern edge of the site, creating a courtyard space between the garage and office tower. The future hotel will be connected directly into the US Bank Center‘s skywalk system.

The hotel project was subject to a one-week lawsuit early this year from Irgens Development Partners, which is developing the 833 East office tower just to the east. That suit, concerning an easement Irgens has with site owner US Bank, was filed on January 20th and dropped on January 29th. Stephen Kravit, attorney for the hotel developers, says the project was not altered in response to the lawsuit.

Photo Gallery

Project Rendering and Project Site

Elsewhere in the Area

The new Westin Hotel is far from the only thing going on near the lakefront. The previously mentioned 833 East tower opened on March 1st. Northwestern Mutual is constructing their $450 million, 33-story Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons just to the north. Just west of that, the insurance giant is also building the Northwestern Mutual Apartment Tower, a 34-floor residential tower and 1,400 stall parking garage.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is rebuilding the Lake Interchange portion of Interstate 794 to the southeast of the hotel. And as part of the state’s effort, the city is redesigning a number of streets in the area, including two that run near the project, Michigan and Clybourn, and connecting the Historic Third Ward with an extension of N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.

A number of projects are in various stages of planning as well. The Couture, a 44-story residential high-rise by Barrett-Lo Visionary Development is moving forward with the sale of the Downtown Transit Center planned for later this month. The Milwaukee Streetcar is undergoing final engineering work for a lakefront spur that will take it through the planned The Couture. And last, but not least, Johnson Controls and the city are conducting a study into the viability of building a substantial office tower on the land along E. Clybourn St. that will be made available by the reconfiguration of the Lake Interchange.

4 thoughts on “Friday Photos: Westin Hotel Rising”

  1. dudemeister says:

    So, is there gonna be an awkward gap between the USB and the hotel? Or are they gonna connect em somehow?

    Overall disappointing project for the location :/

  2. Jeff says:

    It’s hard not to be disappointed by the design and scale of this building. I’m hoping the three-floor punchout looks better than in the rendering, because nothing about it reads urban or sophisticated. The building in general seems appropriate for Madison or Schaumburg, Ill., not the heart of downtown. And while similar cities (Cleveland, Indianapolis, etc.) build 30-story hotels in their centers, Milwaukee developers once again think small.

  3. Joe says:

    Cities don’t build hotels; developers do. I find it hard to believe they would pass up the opportunity to make 3x the money on a larger building if there were money to be made in doing so.

  4. dty says:

    @Jeff – the size and scale of hotel development is not about prestige, it’s about forecasted demand. Given that downtown Milwaukee still only has around 60-70% hotel occupancy, it’s not a surprise that the Westin limited itself to 220 rooms on nine floors, especially since they have a decent size footprint to work with.

    Cleveland, Indianapolis, etc. compete on an entirely different scale for events than does Milwaukee. One could make the chicken-vs.-egg argument of whether the demand must come before the supply, but I don’t think anyone envisions Milwaukee competing for a national political convention (Cleveland) or a Super Bowl (Indianapolis) anytime soon. When a hotel can charge mega-rates (upwards of $400 nightly) for such events, it can afford to build extra capacity that might go largely unused at other times.

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