New Downtown Hotels Replace Aging Office Buildings
Boutique hotels are replacing struggling office buildings.
Two new hotels are getting ready to open in downtown Milwaukee, but neither will occupy a new building.
The Kinn Guesthouse will occupy a four-story office building, 602-606 N. Broadway, originally constructed in 1868. When it opens in early 2022 it will have 31 rooms. It will also be a floor taller.
Owner Charles Bailey is adding a fifth floor to the building that will contain a bar and rooftop deck that will function as an event venue. He previously proposed adding five floors, and then just three, but failed to persuade members of the Historic Preservation Commission. The first floor will contain a restaurant. The property is part of the East Side Commercial Historic District.
In 2019, Bailey said he was drawn to the location for its proximity to the Historic Third Ward, the lakefront and streetcar line.
There is also plenty of other investment going on in the area. Bailey’s Joca Properties acquired the building from J. Jeffers & Co. which developed new The Huron Building a block to the southwest. Multiple other properties within two blocks have been redeveloped in the past decade, including the Central Standard Craft Distillery‘s Crafthouse & Kitchen a block to the south. The new tasting room opened two weeks ago.
The building the Kinn will occupy was originally built as the Lawrence Block and occupied most of the block. The structure is still there, but its ownership was long ago divided and owners have subsequently altered their portion of the structure.
Bailey’s redevelopment will push the building closer to its original state by stripping the paint in favor of exposed Cream City brick.
The project is being backed by historic preservation tax credits.
The Adams Hotel, 790 N. Jackson St., is taking shape on the edge of Cathedral Square Park. Van Buren Management is developing the project, with RINKA serving as the project architect. ADK is leading the general contracting.
The four-story building was originally built in 1920 to serve as a car dealership for the Wisconsin-Oakland Company (later Hokanson-Thompson) according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The Jackson Street building was remodeled in 1959 into a general office building and again in 1982 when a now-demolished, two-story addition was added to the south.
A plan set on file with the city shows two restaurant spaces on the first floor. The second floor will contain 11 guest rooms and a fitness facility. The third and fourth floors will be left largely empty according to a plan set submitted in September. A new structure would be constructed to provide rooftop access, labeled as a “future phase.”
But the parking lot, 795 N. Van Buren St. to the east of the building, is the subject of controversy. Owned by Northwestern Mutual, Van Buren has a long-term lease for it to be used as hotel parking. But Northwestern Mutual said the hotel wasn’t substantially completed in time and sued in June. Van Buren and its affiliate ABFH are seeking to have the suit dismissed.
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