Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Kinn Hotel Proposal Downsized Again

Addition now isn't visible from the street, addressing key concern of Historic Preservation Commission.

By - Jul 13th, 2019 01:05 pm
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Rendering of the Kinn Hotel. Rendering by Vetter Architects.

Rendering of the Kinn Hotel. Rendering by Vetter Architects.

Developer Charles Bailey‘s proposed Kinn Hotel for the building at 602 N. Broadway has again lost two floors, shrinking the planned hotel to 27 rooms. The revision makes the rooftop addition invisible from the street, mollifying a key concern of the Historic Preservation Commission.

In March, Bailey unveiled a plan to add five floors to the top of the four-story building, creating a 62-room hotel. The Historic Preservation Commission, which has design control over the building due to its location in the East Side Commercial Historic District, and nearby property owners balked at that proposal.

Bailey, with architect John Vetter, came back in April with a plan to add only three stories to the building, reducing the room count to 45. But the revised plan was again rejected by the commission, with the panel voting to put the measure on hold while Bailey considered other options and met with neighboring property owners.

“I do think this is probably the finest designed addition that I have seen come before the commission,” said city historic preservation staffer Tim Askin at the April hearing. “No one has listened to my vague design suggestions as much as Mr. Vetter. But I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with a three-story addition atop a four-story building.”

Rooftop additions have been accepted in the Historic Third Ward just to the south, but the neighborhood, despite the name, is not a city-designated historic district. Design in the area is governed by an architectural review board (ARB).

“Before we turn investment parties away because of rules, we should be very careful about these things,” said Commissioner Matt Jarosz in April. Jarosz also leads the Historic Third Ward ARB. “I’m looking at a block that is so in need of investment.”

Bailey’s latest proposal would add only a rooftop bar to the building, and based on renderings would not be visible from the street. That adjustment appears likely to secure the support of area Alderman and HPC member Robert Bauman.

“The initial proposal, at five stories, I almost fell out of my chair,” said Bauman in an interview in April. “I thought that absolutely looked awful.” He said he could support an addition that wasn’t visible from the street.

“I think that block is so important, so critical, that it should be left exactly intact,” said Bauman. “I’m sure I’ll get blasted for that. That’s fine.” The preservation advocate noted that the building hasn’t been sitting vacant and had a law firm as a tenant until recently.

Much of the block, including an adjoining property owned by Don Arenson, was originally built as one structure, the Lawrence Block, in 1868.

Other recent projects in the district include developer Joshua Jeffers‘ Huron Building, for which construction is imminent, and Jeffers’ redevelopment of the Mackie Building. Jeffers would sell the building at 602 N. Broadway to Bailey as part of the hotel proposal.

Bailey, who operates bed and breakfast The Kinn in Bay View through his firm Joca Properties, would also include a first-floor restaurant in the downtown hotel.

The next meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission is scheduled for August 5th.

Renderings

Three-Story Addition Renderings

Five-Story Addition Renderings and Building Photo

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Related Legislation: File 181800

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