Earlier today, I added a hard hat and safety goggles to my average Monday attire and toured the still-under-construction Potawatomi Bingo Casino Hotel. (The hotel will change its name this summer to Potawatomi Hotel & Casino.)
Construction started in the summer of 2012 and is expected to be completed by mid-summer 2014. The hotel will, most likely, open to the public this fall.
Despite the tarps and dust and unpainted walls and exposed plumbing, the hotel is already impressive due to the incredible amount of natural light and the views, which will undeniably rival as some of the city’s best.
When complete, the hotel will be 18 stories high – the superstitious will be happy to know there won’t be a floor 13 – with 341 rooms ranging in size and amenities. (Fun factoid: 415 soap dishes and 381 ice buckets are already on order.)
The hotel will also include seven meeting / party rooms, in-house dining, full bar, coffee shop and exercise area. An additional parking garage featuring 1,400 more stalls is also in the works.
"All of this will allow us to bring people to Milwaukee who have never been here, as well as national conventions," says Kaelyn Cervero, Potawatomi's sales and catering operations manager.
The restaurant concept and coffee vendor is still in the works, but Hassan Abdel-Moneim, Potawatomi’s hotel director, says they are shooting for local.
"We are going with local companies whenever we can," says Abdel-Moneim. "Including local construction companies and Kohler fixtures."
The hotel will cost about $150 million with $97.5 million in construction costs and $47 million in construction payroll. Once in operation, the project is estimated to generate $10 million a year in additional revenue for the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, VISIT Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin.
The hotel will add approximately 230 permanent jobs to the 2,600 already existing jobs at the casino.
The project has been in progress for 514 days without a single lost-time accident. (OK, I'm knocking on wood now.)
"We’re very proud of that," says Facilities Director David Brien.
The hotel will feature a number of environmentally friendly systems and features including a storm water capture system, low-flow plumbing fixtures, central dimming systems and lighting controllers, demand-controlled ventilation in the meeting rooms, natural lighting and the use of recycled products, materials and native plant species in the landscape.
According to Abdel-Moneim, the new hotel will be LEED certified, which is the recognized standard for measuring building sustainability.
The décor will feature a "warm and natural" color palette with nods to the natural elements and Native Culture.
The hotel will be connected to the casino, however, it will be non-smoking (unlike the casino) and will, most likely, appeal to people even if they are not interested in gaming.
"Regardless of anyone’s thoughts on gaming, the hotel is going to provide great service, food and entertainment," says Cervero. "The new meeting space is really flexible and ideal for functions of all sizes."
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