Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

New Downtown Hotel Approved

Historic commission endorses revisions to proposed Tempo by Hilton.

By - Apr 10th, 2023 05:41 pm
Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee. Rendering Kahler Slater.

Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee. Rendering Kahler Slater.

The Historic Preservation Commission endorsed the design of a new eight-story hotel after the proposal was modified to emphasize its verticality and inject a sense of “grandeur.”

The proposed Tempo by Hilton Milwaukee hotel would have 161 guest rooms, two restaurants and a rooftop bar. Located at the corner of N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. and W. Kilbourn Ave., it would be well suited to serve guests attending events at Fiserv Forum and the soon-to-open Baird Center expansion of the convention center.

In January, the commission and its lead staff member, Tim Askin, had panned the initial design for being a “background building.” The commission has design control of what is currently a surface parking lot because it’s part of the former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel complex that the city designated historic in 2019.

The revised design, created by architecture firm Kahler Slater, won the commission’s approval on April 3.

“There is a coherence to the layers of the structure now that responds to the environment in a contemporary influence,” wrote Askin in his report on the latest iteration.

Project architect Ethan Skeels made his case in a written submission released in early March.

“Since the last submittal in December, the building has taken on a more vertical expression with taller windows, especially with a 2-story base expression,” wrote Skeels. “In addition, the predominately masonry form has been interrupted to express a two-bay wide entry condition which reads as a vertical slot on the east facade… the rooftop form has been more integrated into the project with vertical lines carrying through the facade.”

Askin endorsed the modified design, and the commission voted to adopt his recommendation. But they added one condition: that the design team work with Askin, the Department of City Development (DCD) and the Department of Public Works on potentially setting the building back two additional feet from N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.

The request, introduced by Askin, was made by DCD as part of an attempt to expand the sidewalk in the area and improve the streetscape. The zoning code technically requires a setback of 10 feet. “All parties agree that this is illogical,” wrote Askin of the larger setback.

HKS Holdings is developing the hotel. HKS previously partnered with Kahler Slater on the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel in the Historic Third Ward.

The firm would acquire the property, addressed as 308 W. Kilbourn Ave., from an affiliate of J. Jeffers & Co., which led the redevelopment of the former newspaper complex.

HKS is partnering with FirstPathway Partners on the project’s financing. Public documents from early 2021 revealed that the partners were pursuing $21.6 million in EB-5 financing for a $48 million project. The EB-5 program, as of the 2019 regulations, allows foreign nationals to obtain a green card in exchange for a $900,000 investment that creates 10 permanent jobs in a “targeted employment area” where the census tract or those directly adjacent have an unemployment rate in excess of 150% of the national average.

The Tempo brand is the newest Hilton hotel flag. It is billed as an “elevated lifestyle brand” with approachable, upscale amenities that help guests relax and recharge.

The Republican House hotel stood on the site from 1884 to 1961. It was there in 1900 that baseball’s American League was created as a competitor to what was then the standalone National League. The two entities merged in 1903 to create Major League Baseball. A historical marker at the site tells the story. It is expected to be maintained on the property as a visible landmark.

A construction date for the new hotel has not been released.

March 2023 Renderings

December 2022 Renderings

Site Photo

3 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: New Downtown Hotel Approved”

  1. RRPs says:

    Nice coverage

  2. RRPs says:

    Nice coverage of construction in progress — like the details of the city functioning for a greater good

  3. Marty Ellenbecker says:

    Hold yer horses dere.
    Yer doin’ okey-dokey wit’ jus’ deur.

    If’n yer gonna add gran’, yer jus’ pokin’ a stick
    at dat Historcle Senner ta go off on sum kinda’
    wun uppin’ ship, like add’n storys.

    Purty soon ya got traffic jams wit’
    2 kinstruktin’s goin’ on ‘crossa road frum ‘nuther.

    An’ don’ go doin’ no 10 fut set-backs
    Along’ll come sum goody-2-cents ‘n ad trees.
    An’ jus’ wen we git done wit dem taffic jams,
    w’re gonna be drivin’ ‘roun dead stray dawgs
    what dit’n make it crossa road ta pee on dem
    fresh trees. Speekin’ o’ dawgs, even mine
    knows trees don’ pay no tax.

    Okay, the building looks good, but the volume
    and fenestration could use more art tikulat’n.

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