West Allis approves Hampton Inn plans near State Fairgrounds

Aug. 26, 2014

West Allis — With the 2014 Wisconsin State Fair over, West Allis officials have turned their attentions toward next year's event with a development proposal picking up steam.

The often discussed 101-room Hampton Inn and Suites proposal near the fairgrounds has moved another step closer to reality, following a vote of approval on Friday, Aug. 22, by the city Community Development Authority.

Kristi Johnson, West Allis community development supervisor, said the city has reached an agreement with the hotel's developer, Wisconsin Dells-based developer Waterpark Ventures Management Services.

A city-owned parcel of more than three acres in the 8200 block of West Greenfield Avenue is to be sold to Waterpark Ventures for $1. In exchange, city officials are eagerly anticipating the development, which Johnson said is expected to add $13 million to the municipal tax base.

Hampton Inn should be a much-needed amenity during the fair, and city officials are hoping it also will be widely used throughout the year.

All of the CDA members present at Friday's meeting voted in favor of the plan. Prior to voting on the transaction, the CDA held a public hearing. No one spoke for against the hotel.

The CDA vote essentially was the final hurdle for the Hampton Inn project.

"This is the last step we need to take," John Stibal, executive director of the West Allis CDA, said. "We're looking at a groundbreaking during the first week of September, and construction should follow."

The final step of consummating the agreement is the actual closing of the property sale. Stibal said he expects it will occur Sept. 4.

In addition to guest rooms, the $7 million Hampton Inn project includes a conference center and banquet facility. The building is expected to encompass 72,640 square feet.

The high-visibility parcel was used as extra parking space during this year's State Fair. A timeline between the city and Waterpark Ventures calls for Hampton Inn to be up and running by the time next year's fair is held.

The hotel proposal first surfaced two years ago and was to have opened sooner than anticipated.

Several issues — including financing — caused delays. In recent months, governing bodies — including the CDA, plan commission and common council — have approved pieces of the proposal.

Many city officials have vocally lauded the hotel plan since it first surfaced. It replaces several former blighted sites — including Mykonos restaurant, which closed a decade ago, and the Milwaukee Gray Iron Foundry.

In December, as conceptual plans for the hotel began to come together, Mayor Dan Devine emphasized how a higher-end hotel and banquet facility had long been on the city's wish list.

"I'm really glad it's finally getting done," Devine said. "It's almost to the point of being an urban myth. It has been talked about for so many years."

The city still owns about nine acres of property adjacent to Hampton Inn. At Friday's meeting, Stibal said efforts to develop the parcels are ongoing.

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