Glendale hotel may soon be turned into student housing
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
GLENDALE - A long standing area hotel may be on its last leg.
There are plans to sell the Milwaukee River Hilton and turn it into a dormitory, and the plans are certainly non-traditional.
The hotel has been for sale for the past five years, and the potential buyers made an offer too good to turn down. The question is: will the City of Glendale support the deal?
The scenic views of the Milwaukee River Hilton have been part of Glendale’s business landscape for nearly 40 years. But that could soon change.
“The hotel is a piece of real estate,” said general manager Michael Dietrich.
The hotel’s Texas-based owners want to sell the property to a company with plans to convert it into a dorm for international students studying at local private high schools.
“It’s been on the market actively for about the last five years. We have owners who are in their late 70s or 80s so I think it was time for them to divest a little bit,” explained Dietrich.
He believes the sale has no relation to the hotel’s performance.
“The hotel and restaurant are doing phenomenally well right now,” he added.
In fact, Dietrich said they are above the average for room occupancy with a 70 percent rate for the year so far.
A company called CERNET, or China Education and Research Network, is behind the deal. It’s offering $8 million for the property, well above the market value.
The students of the network are participating in classes here through Wisconsin International Academy. It has created relationships with schools such as Dominican High School, Martin Luther High School and Pius XI High School.
Wisconsin International Academy hosted 50 students this year that lived at Glendale’s Baymont Inn and Suites. It plans to have 120 enrolled by fall of 2013 and the Hilton property would allow it to offer housing to as many as 324 kids.
Among those who could benefit from the sale is UWM. The university has a contract with CERNET for recruiting international collegiate students.
“From UWM’s standpoint, we think we are a great university and would be very attractive to these students once they finish high school and are ready to select a college,” said Vice Chancellor of Media Relations, Tom Luljak.
But the City of Glendale stands to lose nearly $250,000 a year in revenue generated by the hotel’s tax on rooms. Jobs would also be lost through the closure of the hotel.
However, CERNET said it plans to employ 100 people ranging from administrators to student advisors and house keeping, maintenance and food service.
No one from the city would comment on the proposal just yet, and those who live in the area have mixed opinions.
“I think they should keep it as a hotel. I think there’s a lot of places they could make a dormitory here in Milwaukee,” said one local.
Luke Maillous believed the sale would be for a good cause.
“There are plenty of hotels that people can stay at so why not help the international students with creating this dorm,” he said.
The hotel’s potential buyer claims revenue lost from room taxes would be made up through spending by students and their families at Bayshore Mall, fitness clubs, grocery stores and hotels when family members visit for roughly two weeks a year.
The company will present its case to the Glendale Plan Commission next week. A public hearing is scheduled for July 9.