News for the Hospitality Executive
|By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Feb. 20, 2004 - Plans moved forward Thursday for a $32 million, 255-room Sheraton Hotel in downtown Milwaukee near the Midwest Airlines Center.
The Redevelopment Authority granted a purchase option for the city-owned hotel site to an investors group led by Brookfield-based Hunzinger Construction Co. Hunzinger first disclosed plans for the Sheraton in November.
The land, along W. Wisconsin Ave. between N. 4th and N. 5th streets, would be sold to the investors group for $1 in order to help subsidize the hotel's development, said Michael Wisniewski of the Department of City Development. No other city financial assistance would be provided.
The site is now used as a parking lot, and is across 4th St. from Boston Store and The Shops of Grand Avenue.
Construction is to begin this fall, with the Sheraton to open by the winter of 2005, said John Hunzinger, Hunzinger Construction president. He said the project would create 390 construction jobs and the equivalent of 90 to 100 full-time hotel jobs. Project supporters also say the Sheraton will help draw more conventions to the Midwest Airlines Center.
Dennis Lowder of Milwaukee Innercity Congregations Allied for Hope said the authority should demand certain guarantees from developers in return for the subsidy.
Lowder said Hunzinger Construction and its subcontractors should be required to pay construction workers prevailing wages. He also said hotel employees should receive "a living wage."
In response, Hunzinger said his firm hires union labor, and that Hunzinger Construction and its subcontractors pay prevailing wages.
In other action: The authority approved $2.4 million in city financial assistance for the proposed Stadium Business Park, a $10 million light industrial development that would replace the former Ampco Metal Inc. foundry, 1745 S. 38th St. The money would be provided to Real Estate Recycling Inc., the business park developer, and would be repaid through property tax revenue generated by the new development. The authority appointed Patricia Algiers, department of city development commissioner, as executive director.
The unanimous vote came after the board heard a written statement from board member Justin Mortara, who was out of town on a business trip, that criticized Acting Mayor Marvin Pratt's firing of Algiers' predecessor, Julie Penman. Mortara, in his statement, said he was not critical of Algiers, but said Pratt's firing of Penman was a political move that could bring project delays.
Ald. Marlene Johnson-Odom, another board member, defended Pratt's decision, and said Penman's firing hasn't caused any slowdown.
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(c) 2004, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News. MEH, HOT, AP,