|By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Mar. 2, 2006-- An 18-story building -- featuring a 150-room hotel, upscale health club and 30 condominiums -- is in the works for a site in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward neighborhood.
Weas Development Co. plans to build the $70 million project at the southeast corner of N. Broadway and E. St. Paul Ave., kitty-corner from the new Milwaukee Public Market.
It would be the tallest building in the Third Ward, where dozens of former warehouses and factories, some dating back to the late 19th century, have been converted into offices, condos, boutiques and restaurants in recent years.
The project will need city zoning approval because its proposed height would be above what is now permitted in the Third Ward. Construction could begin this summer on the development, which would take 18 to 20 months to complete.
The Weas project would create downtown's first hotel since the 131-room Residence Inn Marriott, 648 N. Plankinton Ave., opened in May 2001. Since then, other downtown hotel projects have stalled -- especially as Milwaukee's convention business has declined.
The new hotel would be a Renaissance ClubSport Marriott, a source familiar with the project said Wednesday.
The source, who asked not to be identified because the project hasn't been formally presented to city officials yet, said the hotel would target business travelers drawn downtown employers such as Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., Robert W. Baird & Co. and Foley & Lardner.
Renaissance ClubSport is a new, high-end concept Marriott International Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based hotel operator and franchisor that also owns such brands as Courtyard Marriott and TownePlace Suites.
The first Renaissance ClubSport, in Walnut Creek, Calif., includes an extensive fitness center, spa and upscale restaurant, according to Marriott's Web site.
The fitness center includes cardiovascular and weight equipment; basketball, volleyball, racquetball and squash courts; three swimming pools; a whirlpool; and group exercise classes that include cycling, yoga, Pilates, tai chi and kickboxing.
Marriott said in September that the Walnut Creek hotel, which opened in 2002, has been a big success. The hotel chain plans to open 15 Renaissance ClubSport hotels over the next five to seven years. The next three Renaissance ClubSport properties under development are in Chandler, Ariz.; Rockville, Md.; and Aliso Viejo, Calif.
The Milwaukee hotel would include a 50,000-square-foot health club that would be available for hotel guests and, for a fee, to the public.
Along with the hotel, the Weas development would have 30 condos and a parking structure with 400 to 500 spaces.
Weas last week bought three abutting parking lots at 328 N. Broadway, 334-338 N. Broadway and 335 N. Milwaukee St., that will provide 21,600 square feet for the development site, according to assessment records. Weas bought the lots from the Michael J. Gardner Trust.
Weas also has agreed to buy a vacant tavern at 340-346 N. Broadway from the Historic Third Ward Association. That building will be razed, with its 7,200-square-foot lot to be added to the development site.
The development plans would likely receive a warm reception from the Common Council, said Ald. Robert Bauman, whose district includes the Third Ward.
"We need hotels downtown," Bauman said. "And the Third Ward has no hotels."
Weas Development, based in Wauwatosa, has done several high-profile projects in Milwaukee, including 1522 On The Lake condo tower, 1522 N. Prospect Ave.
The hotel would be the latest among several major developments in the Third Ward.
Other projects include the 80-unit River Renaissance condos, being built at the southeast corner of N. Water and E. Erie streets; the remodeling of a warehouse, 222 E. Erie St., into 18,000 to 20,000 square feet of street-level retail space and about 70,000 square feet of offices on its upper floors; and the redevelopment of the former Milwaukee Antique Center, 341 N. Milwaukee St., into condos and street-level retail space.
Copyright (c) 2006, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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