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Developer Charles Gabaldon Plans to Convert Mostly Vacant Office  Building
 in Downtown Milwaukee into a 160-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites
By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Jan. 4, 2008 - Yet another hotel project has surfaced for downtown Milwaukee, and this one appears to be proceeding quickly.

Local developer Charles Gabaldon plans to convert the seven-story Posner Building, 152 W. Wisconsin Ave., into a 160-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites.

Gabaldon's $21 million plan includes the purchase and redevelopment of the 108,000-square-foot building, which is largely vacant on its upper floors. The former office building also has vacant retail space, as well as Mo's Irish Tavern, which is to remain open.

The hotel plan surfaced Thursday, when the Common Council's Public Works Committee approved Gabaldon's request to lease out 50 spaces in a neighboring city-owned parking structure. Those spaces are to be provided to hotel guests.

The 473-space structure, 724 N. 2nd St., is underused, and the lease will give the city an additional $70,000 to $270,000 of yearly revenue, depending upon the hotel's occupancy, according to the Department of Public Works.

Gabaldon, whose company, Gabaldon Properties, owns hotel and retail properties throughout Wisconsin, plans to have the Holiday Inn open by the spring of 2009. Gabaldon also plans to redevelop vacant parts of the building's first floor into stores and restaurants.

"We're right in the middle of it all, at the most exciting intersection in downtown where we can position ourselves to cater to downtown business executives, conventioneers, festival-goers, families and every one in between," Gabaldon said in a statement.

He said the hotel would reflect Holiday Inn's recently announced plans to redesign its hotels.

Gabaldon is buying the building from Mostreet LLC, which bought the property in 2005 for $2.85 million, according to assessment records.

Mostreet is led by restaurateur John "Johnny V" Vassallo, whose operations include Mo's Irish Pub. Vassallo also operated another Posner Building business, Mo's Cucina, until it closed in August, as well as Mo's . . . A Place for Steaks and other restaurants.

Kinseth Hospitality Co., of North Liberty, Iowa, is to manage the Holiday Inn.

It is the latest in a series of downtown-area hotel developments.

"We're aware of our competition, and the planned hotels, and our project fundamentals allow us to be very comfortable with our niche in the market place," Gabaldon said.

Among the hotel projects:

--The 128-room Staybridge Suites is under construction at the southeast corner of E. Juneau Ave. and N. Water St.

--Local developer Tim Dixon is converting a former warehouse, 500 W. Florida St., into the 102-room Iron Horse Hotel, a boutique hotel designed to accommodate motorcyclists.

--A 122-room Hyatt Place and a 102-room Hyatt Summerfield Suites, which Chicago developer Richard Curto is to build on a 2-acre parcel, bordered by N. Milwaukee, N. Jefferson and E. Lyon streets and E. Ogden Ave.

In addition, there are proposals from Gatehouse Capital Corp. of Dallas and local developer Robert Ruvin for two hotels in the Park East area: a 160-room Aloft Hotel and a 180-room Kimpton Palomar Hotel.

Gabaldon's project signals the return of the Holiday Inn brand to downtown. A Holiday Inn operated at 611 W. Wisconsin Ave. until last year, when the hotel was extensively renovated and renamed a Doubletree Hotel.

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To see more of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.jsonline.com.

Copyright (c) 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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