|By Tom Daykin, Milwaukee Journal
SentinelMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
Sep. 12, 2008 - The economic slowdown, particularly among retailers, has scratched another development proposed for downtown Milwaukee: a shopping, entertainment and housing complex slated for the Park East area.
Chicago developer Richard Curto said Thursday he's dropping his plans for the empty block between N. Milwaukee St. and N. Broadway and E. Lyon St. and E. Ogden Ave.
Curto said the project was doomed by a big drop in leasing activity among retail and restaurant chains and a slowdown in the downtown condo market. Curto's firm, RSC & Associates, had planned to build 175 apartments or condos and 185,000 square feet of commercial space.
"It's unfortunate," Curto said. "But that's what happens when you hit an economic cycle like this on that type of product mix."
It's a step backward in efforts to develop 16 acres of vacant land on downtown's northern edge. The land, owned by Milwaukee County, was made available after the Park East Freeway stub was demolished.
RSC in December bought another block, bordered by N. Milwaukee, N. Jefferson and E. Lyon streets and E. Ogden Ave., for $2.725 million. It is the only Park East parcel so far sold by the county.
Curto's plans to build a 122-room Hyatt Place boutique hotel and a 102-room Hyatt Summerfield Suites extended-stay hotel on that block have been delayed. RSC also plans to build 105 apartments and 6,900 square feet of retail space on that block.
RSC agreed three years ago to buy the other block for $3.5 million. The firm paid the county $115,000 in non-refundable deposits for purchase options, which have since lapsed.
The parcel sales help generate funds for the county, and development of those parcels creates property tax revenue and jobs while also filling in a large slice of vacant land.
Other Milwaukee-area development proposals have been postponed or have run into delays, with commercial lenders cutting back on loans for large projects.
Developer Robert Ruvin had planned to begin work this summer on a 160-room Aloft hotel on a parking lot that Ruvin Development owns overlooking the Milwaukee River, north of W. Juneau Ave. But no work has been done on the project site.
In May, developer Charles Gabaldon dropped plans to convert the seven-story Posner Building, 152 W. Wisconsin Ave., into a 160-room Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites. Developer Scott Fergus announced in January that he was unable to obtain financing for Pointe Blue, which would have created 434 condos, 90 apartments and commercial space overlooking Lake Michigan just north of downtown Racine.
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