Dave Reid

Marriott Proposal to Go Before Historic Preservation Commission on Monday (Renderings)

By - Nov 12th, 2010 01:00 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Milwaukee St. & Wisconsin Ave.

Milwaukee St. & Wisconsin Ave.

Wave Development, LLC is seeking a Certificate of Appropriateness to demolish the buildings located at 319-327 East Wisconsin Ave., and 625-631 North Milwaukee St. to construct a Marriott Hotel. This request will be taken up at the November 15th, 2010 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission.  The buildings proposed for demolition were built between 1867 and 1870, and are a part of the East Side Commercial Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, for over twenty years.

The Marriott Hotel would consist of a ten-story building on Milwaukee St. and a two-story lobby that would front Wisconsin Ave. The hotel would have 200 hotel rooms, a restaurant and bar, a fitness center, an indoor pool, meeting rooms, and structured parking. On Wisconsin Ave. the building height would range from 52-feet for the flat section and 72-feet at the top of vaulted roof. On the Milwaukee St. side the building height would range from 123 feet to 133 feet.

Categories: Real Estate

12 thoughts on “Marriott Proposal to Go Before Historic Preservation Commission on Monday (Renderings)”

  1. Maureen says:

    I think this is a great idea and I hope it gets approved! I read a comment in the last article that stated just because the buildings are old doesn’t mean they are historic. I could not agree more. Almost that whole block is empty buildings. It is time to bring some life to the area. I would think all the restaurants on Milwaukee street would also be on board with this idea, seeing as it would bring more business to them. I am definitely a fan of restored buildings such as the Iron Horse or the buildings in the Third Ward, but in this case I love the idea to start new, judging by the looks of the current buildings and the need for something in that area.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Maureen As much as I like the idea of a hotel, I fear what we will actually get if demolition happens is a parking lot… Further, these buildings are not utilized because they don’t have value but because they have seen years of neglect. And I also fear if this happens what will happen to the buildings on Broadway as some of the same owners want to tear those down as well.

  3. GT says:

    Demolition is a slippery slope

  4. honest says:

    I vote they keep the facades of the buildings on WI Ave and restore them. They can tear down the other facades, but the ones on Wisconsin ave are worth saving.

  5. Nick Aster says:

    I’m generally opposed to demolishing historic buildings but this particular rendering looks excellent. The couple buildings town down are not in the best of shape and the new building preserves the most significant ones and looks designed to be very much in scale with the rest of the block. I still say we should be very wary of demolitions, but this particular project looks like a good one to me.

  6. Milwaukee Mark says:

    The owners of these historic buildings should not be rewarded for years of negligence. If they do not want to maintain their properties, they should sell them to someone else who will. I am tired of our community being preyed upon by greedy real estate speculators from places like Fox Point and Mequon. How would they feel if I took a wrecking ball to their neighborhoods?

  7. Dave Reid says:

    @Milwaukee Mark I’m with you. The reason these buildings are in the shape they are in is because of neglect, and disinvestment.

  8. AnnaO says:

    I would like to address a few of the comments made here.
    1. Old vs Historic. Local, State, and Federal agencies have very specific criteria that are used to determine whether a structure, site, or district should be listed on the local, state, and/or federal historic registers. (making it officially “historic”) When buildings, sites, and districts are listed on these registers, such as the buildings discussed here at Milwaukee Street and Wisconsin Avenue, certain incentives are offered for rehabilitation of the historically designated properties, including a right of oversight given to the community to ensure careful consideration of any alterations and demolitions. Look at the source of the comment, “just because buildings are old doesn’t mean they are historic.” Stated in a vacuum, that may or may not be true, but in this case saying these buildings are just old and not historic is a simplistic, throw-away attitude with disregard for a local legislation, environmental considerations, and long term planning decisions. I am not saying a new structure cannot be built within this site. I am saying, in this instance, the old vs historic argument cannot hold the weight of the words used to express it.

    2. If these buildings are to be demolished for a new structure, we owe it to ourselves to ensure every type of study has been done on the financial and practical feasibility of rehabbing/reusing the buildings currently there. These studies have not been done. We also owe it to ourselves to ensure that those responsible for the demolition of the buildings currently have the financing in place to complete the proposed project before demo starts. It is not unlikely that financing could fall through after the historic buildings are demolished. Many cities have an ordinance in place to ensure such a nightmare scenario does not happen. Milwaukee does not.

    3. Keeping the facades on Wisconsin Avenue: The image shown within this article is a rebuild of what the original Birchard and Follansbee block looked like when it was built in the 1860s (I might be wrong on the decade, but I know it was built before the 1890s). It would consist of keeping only the slimmest portion of the facade and razing the entire building behind. Regardless, the developer has not put this option on the table. The plan was never submitted for approval by the HPC. A version of the plan was shown to HPC staff; that does not mean it was submitted for a certificate of appropriateness.

    4. “These buildings are not in the best of shape.” Incredible rehabs and adaptive reuses of buildings have been done on structures in MUCH worse condition. Most likely, although I am not an expert and have not seen the numbers on feasibility (again, full studies have not been done for this proposal), dereliction has not rendered these buildings useless. The Downtown Books building holds at least three entire floors of books open to the public. It can’t be said these buildings aren’t in working order. Books require heavy load bearing.

    5. The Certificate of Appropriateness is for demolition of the current buildings. Discussion should be primarily focused on the value of those buildings to the community today and tomorrow. The proposed Marriott hotel and judgment of its design is of secondary concern here.


  9. Dave Reid says:

    @AnnaO Do you have any information on the ordinance you mention that other cities currently have. That sounds like something I’d like to research… Thanks!

  10. AnnaO says:

    Google: condition issuance demolition permit historic
    I’ve also emailed you a document that discusses all kinds of demolition review options with city examples. I know Milwaukee often uses interim designation as a tool. Other than that…?

  11. cgleiss says:

    Wow! Lets hurry up and level some historic fabric in Milwaukee for this lifeless, unarticulated, cr*ppy corporate facade. The street level along MKE St. offers barely any space for meaningful interaction with the pedestrian, and the facade along Wisco offers a horrid glimpse into contemporary design 101. None of the renderings show any meaningful attempt to enhance the streets that the building faces. Just because you show a tan color material does not make a meaningful connection to the history of cream city brick. Wisconsin Avenue deserves more than an assembly of glass and random architectural shapes. This proposal misses the golden opportunity to take advantage of the visibility along Wisco. If the building mass was located along Wisconsin and if a delicate and slender glass and steel atrium extended up 10 stories and if the ground floor space was designed to attract a world class shop and if the hotel entrance directed people out onto Wisconsin and if the Milwaukee street facade maintained the horizontal datum lines captured in the surrounding structures, then maybe, this would be worth the destruction. However, as rendered, the building fails to integrate itself into its surroundings, fails enhance active pedestrian uses along Wisco and MKE streets, fails to become a signature icon downtown and fails to promote a higher standard of design on some of the most valuable property in the State of Wisconsin.

    Remember, just because it is new, doesn’t make it good. I’m underwhelmed at best.

  12. Dave Reid says:

    @cgleiss Agreed. The Wisconsin Ave thing looks so MEH to me I thought it was the parking garage.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us