Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Bucks, NCG Break Ground on Deer District Hotel

"The Trade" will be a Marriott hotel with an entire floor intended for NBA players.

By - Sep 17th, 2021 01:55 pm
Bango, Michael Belot, Peter Feigin, Jeff Lenz, Andy Inman, Jeff Tubbs and Mayor Tom Barrett at The Trade groundbreaking. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Bango, Michael Belot, Peter Feigin, Jeff Lenz, Andy Inman, Jeff Tubbs and Mayor Tom Barrett at The Trade groundbreaking. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

“It’s a place to live, it’s a place to work, it’s a place to play,” said Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin of the Deer District around Fiserv Forum.

Soon, it will also be a place to stay. The team and development partner North Central Group (NCG) hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking Friday morning for The Trade, a new 205-room Marriott Autograph Collection hotel.

“The Trade is designed to be authentic to Milwaukee,” said NCG vice president Andy Inman. The name is a reference to Milwaukee’s blue collar history, including the coopers, blacksmiths and machinists that once worked on the very site the hotel is being built on, and the city’s formation as a fur trading post.

The nine-story hotel will include restaurants on the first and ninth floors as well as first-floor commercial space and an 8,700-square-foot event and meeting space on the second floor with outdoor terrace. Select guest rooms will have balconies.

Inman said the first-floor restaurant would be a great gathering place, whether or not Fiserv Forum was hosting an event, while the ninth-floor bar and restaurant would be “very upscale” and offer the premier rooftop experience in Milwaukee.

The hotel will occupy the southern portion of a currently vacant lot at 420 W. Juneau Ave. immediately north of Fiserv Forum.

The site is one of many blocks made available by the 2004 demolition of the Park East Freeway, a fact not lost on Mayor Tom Barrett.

“This is a story about a city divided and now a city weaved together,” said Barrett about demolishing the elevated freeway. He praised former mayor John Norquist for his vision to remove the freeway and the Bucks for the vision to build a neighborhood around the arena. “The story being completed here is about what happens when you have a vision.”

Barrett drew laughter in his remarks when he mentioned steel for the arena came from Luxembourg. He otherwise didn’t address his nomination to serve as ambassador to the European nation.

Each guest floor in the hotel will include suites, with the eighth floor containing a presidential suite that extends to the ninth floor and has its own deck.

The fourth floor is targeted at landing the business of the visiting basketball teams. Unlike the other guest floors, each room in the planning documents submitted to the city is labeled with “NBA” for the room name. It also includes a meeting room. Teams primarily stay at the Pfister Hotel or Kimpton Journeyman Hotel today. The league’s collective bargaining agreement requires teams to find “first-class hotels” for their players with extra-long beds and porters to carry baggage.

The hotel will run the full length of the block along W. Juneau Ave. between N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. and N. 5th St. A retail space will be located in the southwest corner of the building and the restaurant, with a facade open to N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. as weather permits, in the southeast corner. The restaurant would also include a mezzanine level. A porte cochère would be in the middle of the first floor, with a lobby set back from the street.

The hotel is being designed by Gary Brink & Associates and constructed by J.H. Findorff & Son.

NCG will own and operate the hotel, while leasing the land from the Bucks’ real estate affiliate.

Parking for the hotel will be accommodated through the adjacent 5th Street Parking Garage jointly built by the city and team. A future parking structure, built as part of further development of the hotel block, is intended as a long-term parking solution. The north side of the hotel is expected to be largely covered by the garage and a potential office building.

The former freeway block to the east, used as a construction staging area for the arena, would be used for apartment development. The team acquired a large portion of the former freeway corridor for $1 as part of the arena financing deal, but must fund the removal of concrete freeway supports buried in the gravel lots. Twelve of the piers will need to be removed to clear the hotel site.

But Feigin said recently that the team is considered revising the footprint of its conceptual projects to accommodate the large crowds it saw during the NBA playoffs and championship celebration.

“It was so great to see all of those people here,” said Barrett. “We will find another place for them to stand.”

The team selected NCG from a request for proposals process and advanced the project even as the pandemic prevented fans from attending games and canceled events. The partnership was publicly announced in Sept. 2020.

“We moved forward with that Milwaukee grit,” said Inman.

Property tax revenue from the privately-financed hotel will go to pay back tax incremental financing debt associated with the stadium project, including debt associated with the parking garage and plaza.

“Hope to see you in about 18 months at the grand opening of The Trade,” said NCG president Jeff Lenz after thanking a long list of project partners.

Madison-based NCG operates approximately 25 hospitality properties, including the Hilton Garden Inn in Brookfield and the Brookfield Conference Center. It operates three hotels adjacent to a stadium complex in suburban Phoenix.

A series of other hotel projects are being planned or were recently completed near the arena. A 155-room Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee is planned for the parking lot at 915 N. Old World Third St. A Hyatt Place extended-stay hotel, not owned by the Bucks, opened in 2018 at 800 W. Juneau Ave. The hotel is located just west of the team’s training facility property.

Photos

Renderings

Site Photos

Deer District 2019 Conceptual Renderings

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