Park East Hotel to Close
60-year-old hotel in E. State St. sold; future uncertain.
The Park East Hotel, 916 E. State St., will close on September 6th, according to the hotel’s operator in a telephone conversation this morning.
“It has been sold, and I have no further information,” the operator said.
The five story, 159-room “Limited-Economy” hotel, as described in the City Assessor’s records, was built in 1957 and is assessed at a total of $4,770,000. Nearly half of that is the value of the land, which, at 45,720 square feet is more than an acre. It is valued at $2,286,000, or $50 per square foot, which is astronomical by Milwaukee standards, and suggests development potential of a highest and best use somewhat above that of a “Limited-Economy” hotel.
The property has been owned since 2003 by Park East Milwaukee, LLC, which purchased it for $3,175,000. That entity is registered to Ajit S. “Jay” Walia, an attorney and operator of numerous convenience stores. At the time of its purchase, his group promised to turn it into a “jewel.”
Lost Corporate Connection
In 2006 the hotel was branded as the Comfort Inn & Suites Downtown Lakeshore. This mouthful of a name brought with it a national reservation system, which is considered crucial to success in an urban market. However, the affiliation was lost by 2014, when it returned to business as the Park East Hotel. The hotel restaurant was called Aqua, then Aura and most recently Durbar, which in 2016 became a tavern only.
It appears the owners did not succeed in making the place the “jewel” they had promised. In 2015 the hotel’s garage was cited for structural failure and was ordered closed in December of that year. There have been numerous orders issued against the hotel, including for violation of fire suppression regulations.
Cited Today for Noise Complaint
As recently as today, September 1st., the hotel was cited for a noise complaint by the City (I.D. ENF 2017-2660):
DNS Activity:Noise Nuisance| We are requesting the Park East Hotel fix their A/C unit which has been failing over the last week or two. It switches from running very loudly and continuously with a rattling sound, to a buzzing intermittently. Their staff has stated that there is no intention to fix it.
Was to Host Antiwar Veterans
The closing came as a surprise to John Zutz, an organizer of the 50th Anniversary observation of the founders of the Vietnam Veterans Against the War. The group will have an event at the Falcon Bowl, 801 E. Clarke St. September 10th from 1-6 p.m. Zutz wanted to find space for out-of-town attendees and had booked rooms at Park East which have now been cancelled.
“I had rooms blocked for Sep 7 – 10 for people coming to the VVAW 50th anniversary party,” Zutz says. “They couldn’t stay open one more weekend. When they phoned to tell one of my guys his reservation was canceled the caller informed him the place is being converted to condos.”