Hotel near State Park Fair moves forward in West Allis
City has waited 20 years for this kind of development
West Allis — A hotel and banquet hall planned for across from the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis is finally moving forward and it's like a Christmas present the city has waited 20 years for, West Allis Development Director John Stibal said.
"In the last 20 years of setting goals for the city, a nice hotel with a banquet facility has always ranked high on the desired list of the mayor and Common Council," he said. "It's a milestone for the city."
"I'm really glad it's finally getting done," West Allis Mayor Dan Devine said. "It's almost to the point of being an urban myth, it has been talked about for so many years."
Last week, the West Allis Common Council approved a purchase and sale agreement with Waterpark Ventures Management Services LLC, a Wisconsin Dells development entity, for construction of the $14 million hotel and banquet facility.
Waterpark Ventures Management Services will start construction of a 100-room Hampton Inn and Suites in the first part of next year. It will be on about 4.53 acres of land at the southwest corner of 82nd Street and Greenfield Avenue.
The city will sell the land for $1 to encourage construction of a quality hotel and 300-seat banquet facility across the street from the Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center.
Hotel amenities will include a pool with a water feature, contemporary fitness room and a business center. The banquet facility will seat 300.
The hotel should open by spring 2015.
In a news release announcing the sale, Devine said the hotel is bound for success: "From youth sport tournaments at the Pettit Ice Center to exhibitors or visitors to Wisconsin State Fair Park, a hotel in West Allis will be a welcomed addition that is primed for success."
The development hit an unexpected delay last year when it took three times as long than normal for the 20 Chinese investors to be cleared by federal Homeland Security.
So many people from other countries are asking to invest in American developments that the federal government has been overwhelmed, Stibal said. They invest through what's known as the federal Employment-Based Fifth immigration investor program, created by the Immigration Act of 1990. It offers permanent residency in the U.S. if certain conditions are met, including investing enough money to generate at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.
The project is expected to generate 80 jobs, Stibal said.
Normally, the approval process is six months, but because EB-5 financing has become so popular for hotel financing, it took 18 months, he said.
First Industrial-Ring Enterprise will provide a $6-million allocation of New Market Tax Credits that equates to more than $1.2 million in actual cash to help pay for stormwater infrastructure and the project itself.
The hotel will be built on land once occupied by the Milwaukee Gray Iron Foundry. To encourage redevelopment of the area, the city formed a Tax Incremental Financing District in 2009 to acquire nearly eight acres of land. Acquisition and demolition of the former foundry, the former Mykonos Restaurant, and seven residential properties were completed in 2011.
The remaining three acres of the development site are being marketed to attract a leading neighborhood grocery store. Also, a portion of the former foundry was retained to offer a unique setting for a possible new brew pub/restaurant.
"The city has seen increased inquires about the site and we anticipate interest to grow as the hotel development commences," Stibal said.
Federal and state funds were instrumental in enabling the city to buy and raze buildings and prepare the site for redevelopment.
The hotel should generate about $320,000 per year in new property taxes, which the city can use to pay off its costs to prepare the site.
The hotel also should generate an additional $140,000 in hotel room taxes, Stibal said.
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