Wimmer Communities project would include mix of historic rehab and new construction
Hales Corners-based Wimmer Communities plans to create an 11-story, 102-room hotel in the Historic Third Ward through rehabilitating the old Hoffco building, while adding width and height to the structure through new construction.
Wimmer and project architect, Milwaukee-based Eppstein Uhen Architects, unveiled the developer’s plans for the Hotel Third Ward project today during a meeting of the neighborhood’s Architectural Review Board.
The hotel would be under the Marriott Tribute Portfolio brand. It would be the first of this brand in the Milwaukee hotel market.
Greg Uhen, chief executive officer of EUA, called the proposal, “an absolute catalyst project for the Third Ward.”
Wimmer will own the building, and will contract with Fairfax, Virginia-based Crescent Hotels & Resorts in operating the hotel. Wimmer also uses Crescent on its other hotel properties.
Mark Wimmer, a co-owner and president of Wimmer Communities, said his firm spent some time considering the best use for the site since 2019, when it first acquired the Hoffco building.
“We spent a lot of time at this, looked at innumerable options and design parameters, and all the time looking at what would get us the best relationship to the river, to the experience of the guests and to neighborhood residents,” Wimmer said. “Working with Greg and his team, we think that’s what we’re bringing forward.”
According to project plans, the Hoffco building would get a complete makeover with restored windows and façade. New square footage would be added to the south, on the neighboring lot that’s also owned by Wimmer. It would also add six floors above the five-story Hoffco building.
The building would total just over 100,000 square feet.
The top floor would be a rooftop terrace, which will contain a restaurant. Another restaurant area was depicted behind the building, facing the river.
Plans also call for a new boardwalk that connects Water Street to the public Riverwalk. An existing boardwalk runs diagonally through the vacant southern lot. Under these plans, it would be moved to run through the building itself. It would be dressed up with planters, lighting and likely some signs indicating that it is publicly accessible.
Uhen said the project team may pursue federal historic tax credits on the project.
The board approved conceptual plans for the project. It will also need to approve specific plans after they’re formed.
Some board members expressed concerns with the building’s design, such as the blending of the old and new portions. But overall, they received it favorably.
“This is kind of exactly what we’ve had in mind forever for our entrances (into the Third Ward),” said board member Ron San Felippo.
The project itself and proposed Riverwalk changes will need approval by city leaders. It might also need approval for a zoning code variance from the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals.