A Drury Hotel for Downtown
National chain's Drury Plaza Hotel being created in historic 1928 building.
Without fanfare, a new hotel is quietly taking shape within a historic downtown high rise. Drury Hotels will open the 216-room “Drury Plaza Hotel Milwaukee Downtown” in the 14-story First Financial Centre at 700 N. Water St. in the summer of 2019.
Workers can be spotted hauling materials into the building at the northeast corner of N. Water St. and E. Wisconsin Ave., but no major work is visible from the outside.
The 154,000-square-foot building looks much more modern than it truly is. It was originally built in the Art Deco style by the firm of Eschweiler & Eschweiler in 1928. An early 1970’s renovation stripped the first couple floors of their ornamentation. The upper floors lost their Art Deco charm in the early 1980’s. All that is left is a building that is perfectly inoffensive, but also pretty anonymous on Downtown’s busiest intersection.
An affiliate of the Missouri-based Drury Hotels acquired the building for $4.6 million in 2016, a notable drop from its $10.65 million sale price in 2007. The building had a 33 percent occupancy rate when it was sold at auction in 2014.
Over 5,000 square feet of meeting rooms will be included in the building. Plans for the lower level of the building show a fitness center, pool and meeting rooms. First-floor plans include a business center and limited service restaurant. Meeting rooms are planned for the second floor, with 18-rooms per floor on floors three through fifteen. In typical hotel fashion, plans on file with the city indicate there will be no 13th floor.
The hotel will be the chain’s first in Wisconsin. The firm has renovated a number of old office buildings into hotels. All told, the chain has more than 150 hotels in 25 states.
The “Drury Plaza” hotel intended for Milwaukee will offer “an upscale environment with enhanced meeting space and on-site dining,” according to Drury’s website.
The First Financial Centre is one of a number of rather downtrodden downtown office buildings that have been converted or drastically overhauled in recent years. The Buckler, The Germania and MKE Lofts apartment buildings were created out of largely empty office buildings in Westown. A portion of the Century Building is likewise becoming apartments on W. Wells St. Immediately east of the Drury project, the office building at 250 E. Wisconsin Ave. was overhauled into the 250 Plaza office building.
That building, which is also referred to by its longtime address at 200-208 E. Wisconsin Ave. was originally known as the Bankers Building. Associated Bank was the most recent tenant, closing their first-floor branch in August 2014.
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.