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A 176-room Kimpton Palomar Hotel and 63 Condos In Final Planning Stages for
 Downtown Milwaukee's Park East Area; Will Have to Pre-sell 50% of the
 Condos to Obtain a Loan for the $160 million Project
By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News

Mar. 13, 2008 -- A hotel and condominium tower planned for downtown Milwaukee's Park East area will not include office space, as originally proposed, but will seek a "celebrity chef" for its restaurant and high-end operators for the hotel's nightclub and spa, the project's developer said Wednesday.

The 22-story development, with a 176-room Kimpton Palomar Hotel and 63 condos, is proposed for the block bordered by W. Juneau and W. McKinley avenues, and N. Old World 3rd and N. 4th streets. It would also have 17,000 square feet of retail space and a 350-space parking structure.

The Palomar, a high-end hotel operated by San Francisco-based Kimpton Hotels, would feature amenities and services that would also be offered to the development's condo owners, said Edward Koh, director of investments and development for Gatehouse Capital Corp.

That would include a spa, nightclub and restaurant, as well as concierge, child care, dry cleaning, pet sitting, housekeeping and other services, Koh said. He said Gatehouse, the project's lead developer, is in discussions with a celebrity chef, whom he declined to name, for the restaurant.

Those services, along with a location near downtown attractions, will help Gatehouse and its local partner, Ruvin Development Inc., sell the condos, Koh said. Gatehouse and Ruvin probably will have to sell 40% to 50% of the condos to obtain a loan for the $160 million project, he said. The units will have sale prices starting in the mid-$600,000 range, and construction would begin this fall if enough units are sold to obtain financing.

"People here are humble," said Koh, a Milwaukee native. "That doesn't mean people are not affluent."

The Palomar will appeal to business travelers who are used to four-star hotels and to Milwaukee firms looking to impress visiting clients, Koh said.

Gatehouse and Ruvin dropped their original plans for offices totaling 55,000 square feet. Koh said Gatehouse's other developments, in Dallas, San Diego, Los Angeles and other cities, offer either hotels or a combination of hotels and condos. The office component did not fit well with the Milwaukee project, he said.

Another change: Plans to incorporate the empty Sydney Hih building and the former Gipfel Brewery into the project have been dropped to reduce costs. The Sydney Hih will be demolished, with remnants to be used in a park planned for the southwest corner of W. McKinley Ave. and N. Old World 3rd St. The Gipfel will be moved to a vacant lot, at 1129-1135 N. Old World 3rd St., and be converted into commercial space by Ruvin Development, Koh said.

The project would create 600 construction jobs and 230 hotel jobs. It would be among the largest projects in the 64-acre Park East redevelopment area, which includes 16 acres left vacant when the Park East Freeway was demolished in 2003.

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Copyright (c) 2008, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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