Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Construction Starts on Westin Hotel

220-room hotel will be the closest hotel in the city to the lakefront.

By - Feb 22nd, 2016 05:53 pm
The Westin Milwaukee

The Westin Milwaukee

A high-end Westin Hotel is set to open in 2017 in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee. Construction started today on the project, located at 550 N. Van Buren St. Rising nine stories, the new hotel will be the closest hotel in the city to the lakefront.

General contracting services are being provided by J.H. Findorff & Son Inc.. Arrival Partners, led by Doug Nysse, 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.

The new hotel will include 220 rooms and suites, many with Lake Michigan views. Amenities will include a fine dining restaurant, large lobby bar, fitness center, 9,000 square-feet of meeting facilities and a 5,000 square-foot ballroom.

Jackson Street Holdings is no stranger to Downtown. The firm has also developed the Aloft Hotel, Milwaukee Marriott Downtown and soon-to-open SpringHill Suites Marriott. 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 recently subject to a one-week lawsuit from Irgens Development Partners, who 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.

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Lakefront Changes

The new Westin Hotel is far from the only thing going on near the lakefront. Irgens Development Partners will open their new 18-story office tower, 833 East, on March 1st. Northwestern Mutual is constructing their $450 million, 33-story Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons just to the north. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is rebuilding the Lake Interchange portion of Interstate 794 to the southeast. 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 planning to break ground in the near future. 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.

7 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Construction Starts on Westin Hotel”

  1. Dudemeister says:

    Well, at the risk of sounding a hypocrite, this is fugly. It could be better with a little more height, a la

    Also, I don’t think Clybourn actually borders this lot, although Van Buren does . . .

  2. MidnightSon says:

    Ack. The design is, indeed, underwhelming. Could be found off most any suburban interstate. And only nine stories? I suppose the developer knows the market better than I do.

  3. Casey says:

    About time this town got a hotel at least near the lake. It has always amazed me that we have so much natural beauty but no one has ever decided to build a hotel to take advantage of that. This will bring a good mix of people to the new plaza that is being built on Lincoln Memorial.

  4. exchilango says:

    An underwhelming Madison-sized hotel. What a wasted opportunity. But so are this developer’s other downtown hotels, including the Marriot.

  5. gerald braden says:

    If it were possible, we would prefer that the Couture was the site of this hotel and with more rooms added on. It certainly would have had the better vies of lake Michigan. We still need a quality hotel that can accommodate the world class traveler who wants the sort of luxury that is expected in Paris, London, NYC! There are corporations in Milwaukee who would never put up their guest in DT Milwaukee and prefer to maintain hotel rooms in Chicago, simply because the standard of luxury is more in keeping with what they wish for their clients. perhaps the new Kimpton will serve some of that need.

  6. Izzy says:

    Great to finally see what the Westin will look like, I will say when murmurings of a high-end hotel being added to the US Bank galleria emerged a while back, I imagined something much grander in scale and design. I understand the limitations of the easement agreement with the Irgens site, but I feel like US Bank should have left that out of the sale agreement to Irgens in favor of being able to build more freely on their own land. I find it odd that they tout the proximity to the lakefront, and lake views, when only a fraction of the rooms will have said views, as the parking garage blocks the lower half of the building, and 833 East blocks the eastern views of most of the upper floors. I think if they would have built on the southern most end of the plot, while preserving the Van Buren entrance, they could have gone much more vertically, but alas, I’m no architect (although I did complete two years in UWM’s program before switching to Business). Overall, I don’t mind the design, hopefully this will continue the ripple effect of the area that is already happening, and more of those monstrous parking structures will be redeveloped seeing as most sit dormant after office hours. Either way, this is another positive for downtown development.

  7. Ron Legro says:

    One of the blubs for this Westin project says the “original” name for the US Bank Center was the Firstar Center. Actually, that came in between. The original name was the First Wisconsin Center. The Westin may be closest to the lake, but it’s not much closer than the Pfister, and the Pfister tower rooms arguably will still offer a better lake view.

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