Oct. 16–A five-story, 170-room hotel would connect to a city-owned conference center under a new proposal that would redevelop part of Brookfield Square mall.
The hotel would be owned by Middleton-based North Central Group, which also would manage the one-story, 44,000-square-foot conference center, said Dan Ertl, city community development director.
North Central has been recommended as the city's "hotel partner" on the project, Ertl said Monday. The firm was among those responding to a city request for proposals on the conference center/hotel plan.
The planned hotel franchise isn't being disclosed. It would be "an upscale, business-class hotel," said Andy Inman, North Central vice president of development.
North Central hopes to begin construction by mid-2018, with the hotel and conference center open by mid-2019, Inman said.
The firm in February dropped its plans to operate a five-story, 170-room Hilton Garden Inn at The Corridor mixed-use project in Brookfield after conflicts about the timing of infrastructure construction.
City officials have long wanted to build a facility that would host small to medium business conferences and other events.
Those plans have lately been proceeding at Brookfield Square, and would be part of the mall's continuing redevelopment.
The Common Council, at its Tuesday night meeting, is scheduled to enter closed session to consider buying 9.5 acres from mall operator CBL & Associates Properties Inc., according to the council's agenda.
That site is now occupied by the former Sears Automotive Center and its parking lot. The center largely closed in May except for a small auto parts store, and would be demolished.
The council also will consider a possible sale of 2.5 acres of that parcel to North Central Group, which would develop the hotel.
North Central would lease the conference center, which the firm would operate.
The conference center, featuring an 18,000-square-foot ballroom and a smaller 6,000-square-foot meeting room, would be attached to the hotel by a service corridor, Ertl said.
State law allows the council to discuss both items in closed session because they involve real estate negotiations. Prices for the proposed city land purchase from Chattanooga-based CBL, and possible sale to North Central, aren't yet being disclosed.
Any votes on those proposals must occur in open session.
Ertl said the possible transactions involving North Central won't be made final at Tuesday's meeting. However, the council could vote to approve the purchase of the former Sears site from CBL, he said.
The auto center is south of Brookfield Square mall, where a Sears department store is one of the anchors.
CBL bought the Sears properties in January. Sears, which has been closing hundreds of stores nationwide, is leasing back that space through a short-term agreement.
Marcus Theatres Corp. in August announced it has reached an agreement with CBL to build a cinema and restaurant complex at the site.
That 40,000-square-foot building would be attached to the mall as part of the future redevelopment of the site that now has the Sears department store.
Construction on the new cinema and restaurant building, known as a BistroPlex, is expected to begin in 2018 after Sears closes and the department store is demolished.
The Common Council could approve a proposal to shift city funds, previously set aside for a planned redevelopment of the mall's Boston Store building, to help finance the Sears site redevelopment, Ertl said. Those plans, which include a new parking structure, have been delayed.
CBL in 2015 developed five new store and restaurant buildings in front of the Sears building's eastern side facing Moorland Road. CBL has developed several other stand-alone buildings at Brookfield Square since 2005.
Tom Daykin can be reached at email@example.com.