Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

7 New Downtown Hotels for DNC

Downtown room count will grow by over 10 percent in time for 2020 convention.

By - Mar 12th, 2019 11:57 am
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New hotels coming to downtown MIlwaukee. Clockwise from top left, rendering by Marcus Corp, rendering by Base4, photos by Jeramey Jannene.

New hotels coming to downtown Milwaukee. Clockwise from top left, rendering by Marcus Corp, rendering by Base4, photos by Jeramey Jannene.

Just in time for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, downtown Milwaukee will have seven new hotels by the summer of 2020. Totaling 774 rooms, the hotels represent a wide range of star ratings and locations in the downtown area.

None of the developers have cited the convention as the reason for the new hotels, with all of the projects already under construction, but they have to be pleased with yesterday’s announcement. Likewise, a more than 10 percent increase in the number of downtown hotel rooms likely didn’t seal the deal with the Democratic National Committee, but it certainly couldn’t have hurt.

Two of the hotels represent redevelopments of existing hotels, but the net gain is still 498 rooms. A total of 16,000 rooms within a 40-minute drive of downtown Milwaukee are committed to the convention already, representing much of the area’s inventory, according to VISIT Milwaukee president Paul Upchurch.

The convention could be a short ride or walk from all of the new hotels. Each of the hotels is within a block of a streetcar stop. Service on The Hop is required to be free for the convention. The convention is scheduled to run from July 13th through July 16th and the city is working on an extension to the convention center.

Cambria Hotel

The Cambria Hotel being constructed at the northwest corner of W. Clybourn St. and N. Plankinton Ave. is on track to open this year. It will have 132 rooms spread across four floors, with 77 King units, 50 Double Queen units and four suites. A first-floor pool and fitness center are planned as well as a “coffee house pub” and meeting room. The pub, however, appears to be oriented primarily towards hotel guests, with no door planned directly to the street.

The hotel will be the first non-parking structure to rise from the block bounded by W. Clybourn St., N. 2nd St., W. Michigan St. and N. Plankinton Ave. in decades. For more on the project, see our December article.

Drury Plaza Hotel

This one has been a long time coming. We profiled the 218-room project in April 2018 when work had been ongoing for many months already to convert the former First Financial Centre at 700 N. Water St. into a Drury-brand hotel. Flash forward a year and not much has changed from the exterior. Framing for rooms can be seen through the windows that aren’t blocked.

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.

First-floor plans include a business center and limited-service restaurant. Meeting rooms are planned for the second floor. As of 2018, the hotel was scheduled to open in summer 2019.

Holiday Inn Express

Construction is just starting on a 115-room Holiday Inn Express at the southwest corner of E. Michigan St. and N. Jefferson St. The hotel, is one of three hotels being built in a row by JR Hospitality and Hawkeye Hotels. Demolition work on an empty office building on the site is underway. For more on the project, see our coverage from last week.

Home2 Suites by Hilton

The Home2 project will be a first for downtown Milwaukee, a single structure for two hotels. Back-of-the-house facilities will be merged with an attached Tru Hilton. The project, as well the adjacent Holiday Inn Express, is being developed by JR Hospitality and Hawkeye Hotels. For more on the project, see our coverage from last week.

Milwaukee Athletic Club Hotel

Developers Joshua Jeffers and Tony Janowiec are planning to convert the Milwaukee Athletic Club building, which previously included 55 hotel rooms, into a 96-room hotel. The project, which includes temporarily relocating the club to Gold’s Gym and CityCenter at 735, is scheduled to be completed in summer 2020. The $30 million redevelopment plan relies on a complex array of financing including almost $10 million in historic preservation tax credits and $5 million in PACE energy efficiency financing. The hotel could ultimately be a Kimpton, Marriott Autograph or Indigo-flagged operation according to an earlier announcement of the deal. Jeffers did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.

Tru by Hilton

The Tru hotel will be connected to the Home2 Suites along N. Jefferson St., just north of E. Clybourn St. The project, as well the adjacent Holiday Inn Express, is being developed by JR Hospitality and Hawkeye Hotels. All three of the hotels are scheduled to open in 2020, with design work led by Base4. For more on the project, see our coverage from last week.

Saint Kate Arts Hotel

One of two hotels on this list that isn’t entirely new, but instead represents the complete overhaul of an existing hotel. Marcus Corp. shuttered the Intercontinental Hotel in January and plans to open the Saint Kate, an independent hotel, in late spring. The arts-centric hotel will also leverage its proximity to major arts venues. It’s directly connected to the Pabst Theater and Milwaukee Repertory Theater complex and also just across the street from the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.

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