New Downtown Boutique Hotel Planned
Developer would add five floors to historic building, creating nine-story hotel.
A proposal for a nine-story, 62-room hotel has emerged for the intersection of N. Broadway and E. Michigan St., but first it will need to be vetted by the city’s Historic Preservation Commission.
Charles Bailey, through his firm Joca Properties, is proposing to add five floors to the top of a four-story building located at 602-606 N. Broadway in the city’s East Side Commercial Historic District. Bailey, who operates bed and breakfast The Kinn in Bay View, would convert the entire building, built in 1868, into a new hotel.
A 3,876-square-foot restaurant space is envisioned for the first floor, with an outdoor, rooftop bar on the ninth floor. “The rooftop experience will become a hub for all in the city to gather and socialize,” reads the plan submission. A fitness center and yoga room would also be on the ninth floor.
In an interview with Urban Milwaukee, Bailey said a variety of factors drew him to this location. “We feel it’s very close to the Historic Third Ward, lakefront and trolley line,” Bailey said. The building is along The Hop streetcar line and two blocks from the Historic Third Ward.
“We have been looking for quite some time for a second location,” said Bailey. “The one in Bay View has been wildly successful.”
The Kinn, located at 2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., includes eight rooms and the Kindred on KK restaurant in a 113-year-old building. “If you love the freedom and comfort of vacation rentals and are bored of the same, old corporate hotel concept, then Kinn Guesthouse MKE is exactly what you’ve been looking for,” says The Kinn website. The micro-hotel opened in 2017.
The downtown building to be developed is currently owned by J. Jeffers & Co. The firm, led by Joshua Jeffers, has done an extensive amount of work in the area. Kitty corner from the proposed hotel, it restored the Mitchell and Mackie buildings, adding apartments to the latter. It’s also about to break ground on the Huron Building, a new nine-story office building that will be anchored by law firm Husch Blackwell.
This stretch of Broadway was lined with vacant or underutilized buildings when the Hilton Garden Inn opened in 2012. In addition to the Hilton and Jeffers’ project, a host of other projects have activated the street. Patti Keating Kahn, who serves on the historic commission, led a historic restoration of the Railway Exchange building that included landing Pita Pit as a restaurant tenant. Downtown Books relocated to a mid-block storefront. And David Uihlein, who owns a number of properties in the district, is nearly finished restoring three small buildings next to Kahn’s Railway Exchange.
Bailey told Urban Milwaukee that Catalyst Construction would serve as the project’s general contractor. Vetter Architects is leading the design. The plan submission lists the project value at $14.8 million.
The highly visible five-story addition would likely disqualify the project from being eligible for federal and state historic preservation tax credits. The credit program, which can offset up to 40 percent of applicable project costs, has increasingly been used to fill financing gaps on complicated projects.
Similar to the situation playing out with the Marcus Center, should the Historic Preservation Commission rule against the property, Bailey could appeal the decision to the full Common Council. There is a precedent for such a move on this very block, with the Marriott Hotel on the block’s east side having worked its way through a similar process.
Renderings and Building Photo
Before the commission can rule on the project, it will need to work out the complicated history of what is now several properties. While Bailey only proposes to redevelop the space at 602-606 N. Broadway, the 1987 report used to designate the district states the building originally ran from 602 to 628 N. Broadway. All of the building is still standing, but now is five different parcels with four different owners and four distinct facades.
Known as the Lawrence Block when it was built in 1868, the fourth floor was added in the 1890’s and the portion from 618 to 624 N. Broadway had a new tile facade installed, “destroying its architectural significance,” as the report noted.
The portion of the building Bailey proposes to redevelop, which J. Jeffers & Co. acquired in 2017 for $1.55 million, still maintains much of the original Italianate-style facade.
When Jeffers acquired the 23,967-square-foot building a law firm and investment firm were listed as tenants.