Like everyone in Milwaukee, I've been wondering lately what the sagging economy means for development in the now-wide open Park East corridor Downtown.
Like some -- but not everyone, certainly -- I was a fan of tearing down this useless bit of road that severed Downtown's connection with the north and bled speeders out on to Broadway.
Don't get me wrong, I'd rather have park land and open space there than that hulking mass of concrete, but having revenue-generating properties that further enhance Milwaukee's Downtown is better still.
So, it was good news when the city sent out a press release yesterday noting that excavation has finally begun on the site along the Milwaukee River that will house a five-story Aloft Hotel, just north of Juneau Avenue.
That, plus word that Iron Chef Michael Symon will helm a restaurant at another hotel project -- The Palomar -- in the corridor west of the river all sounds like positive news for what was beginning to look like an open-ended dead zone.
According to the press release, "The $27 million development will feature a 160-room Aloft Hotel, a Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide Inc. brand that offers a similarly modern feel as its ‘W' brand hotels. The project is expected to create 75 new jobs. The hotel is expected to open November 2009."
Of course, on the eastern end of the corridor, there has been a lot of development already and more under way. In fact, the city notes, more than $800 million in development has already been completed or is now underway there.
Keep up to date on the corridor's progress at www.mkedcd.org/parkeast.