On Wednesday, workers hoisted the final steel beam into place, topping off the new Deer District hotel. The Trade, a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel, is slated to open on the northwest corner of Vel Phillips and Juneau Avenues in March 2023.
“Topping off represents a significant milestone for the city of Milwaukee, an addition to the fabric of Milwaukee,” said Andy Inman, VP of Development for North Central Group, at the event.
Located on property in the path of the former Park East Freeway spur, the hotel is being developed by North Central and built by Findorff. Pierce Engineers is the structural engineer.
NCG operates nearly 30 hotels in five states including two in Brookfield: the Brookfield Conference Center and the Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Brookfield Conference Center.
In addition to media and dignitaries, the event was attended by many of the workers on site building the 207-room hotel, which was announced last year.
Many attendees signed the beam before it was lifted into place by a tower crane.
The Bucks championship parade ended at a stage built on the same gravel lot just north of the hotel almost exactly a year ago.
“The Trade is really about celebrating how things are made,” said Inman. “Today is about celebrating all the people that went into building The Trade.”
According to Inman there are about 75 workers on site on any given day and hundreds will contribute to the construction of the nine-story hotel.
“Hospitality is about telling a story,” Inman added. “The Trade is telling the story of how Milwaukee was made; the industries that built Milwaukee, that were such a vital part of the building of Milwaukee.
“When guests come to The Trade they’ll see physically in the building how the city was built but also that warm hospitality that is part of the Midwest.”
Construction of the hotel – designed by GBA Architects – began last year and progress has been swift, according to Bucks President Peter Feigin.
“I’m not sure if anyone recognizes the accomplishment of the speed that this is going up,” he said, tipping his metaphorical hat to Findorff.
“This is part of redefining Downtown in such a great way. The Trade has helped us further our goal of really creating a destination where you can work live and play in Downtown Milwaukee.”
“The Deer District has really become the living room of Milwaukee,” added Mayor Cavalier Johnson.
Before getting a peek inside the work in progress, Findorff Executive Vice President Jeff Tubbs shared a few stats about the building.
The Trade contains 214 tons, or 428,000 pounds of steel and 7,500 cubic yards of concrete and when complete, will have more than 30,000 square feet of window glazing and 770,000 square feet of drywall.
“But the statistic we’re most proud of is that there have been zero lost-time accidents,” Tubbs said. “It’s been an incredible safe job site.”
Inside, we saw the future lobby, which will hide a kitchen behind it. That kitchen will service the 5,000-square-foot ballroom on the second floor via a back of house elevator that will also be used to move VIPs throughout the building unseen and unmolested.
That kitchen will use a “chill and re-therm” system that will allow the staff to prepare meals in advance and reheat them on their serving plates. The system is being built by Menomonee Falls-based Alto-Shaam.
There will also be a 4,000-pound pizza oven installed on the ninth floor.
On the Juneau Avenue side of the building will be the main entrance, as well as a 1,000-square-foot commercial space for which the developers are seeking a retail tenant that is not likely to be a food- or beverage-focused business.
A grand staircase will connect the first and second floors and a mezzanine level will have a small balcony overlooking Juneau Avenue.
In addition to the ballroom, the second floor will house meeting rooms along the Juneau side and on the Vel Phillips Avenue side, overlooking the Deer District, will be a lounge.
Balconies will line practically the entire Phillops and Juneau sides. The balcony on the east side will have fire tables during cool weather.
In the center of the lounge is a rectangular opening called, curiously, the “oculus” which, we’re told, will feature a “unique piece of art.”
On some of the floors, guest rooms are already framed out. We visited the third floor and peeked into a junior suite in the southwest corner.
The hotel, which has predominantly king beds, has more than 20 suites – all with soaking tubs – including a two-story, 2,000-square-foot presidential suite on the eighth and ninth floors in the northwest corner.
That suite will also have two balconies and can be configured to sleep about 10 people.
The third floor also has a fitness center overlooking the Deer District. It will have a four-inch rubber floor to deaden any sound and prevent it traveling to the guest rooms.
In an unusual twist, though one that makes sense for a hotel just a few yards from the Fiserv Forum, the fourth floor has been unofficially dubbed the “NBA floor.”
This guest room level will have ceilings two feet higher than the other floors to accommodate unusually tall guests. The shower heads will be installed a foot higher than in the other guest rooms (at 9 feet instead of 8) and the doorways will be eight feel tall. There will also be extra-high toilets.
Rooms throughout the hotel will feature artwork that spotlights Milwaukee and the city’s history.
Here’s more of what we saw on Wednesday’s tour of The Trade Hotel...
Future meeting rooms with a view
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.