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Glendale Chamber president advocates 'no' vote on Hilton rezoning, says city can find 'triple win'

Sept. 5, 2013

Glendale — Glendale Chamber of Commerce President Dale Schmidt hopes to achieve a long-term "triple win" when it comes to the Hilton hotel and Anchorage restaurant site at 4700 N. Port Washington Road, and perserve the hotel as a lodging landmark.

In a report to city leaders Wednesday and an interview Thursday, Schmidt said he has identified a potential buyer who is willing to begin talks on purchasing the riverfront hotel and restaurant if the Common Council decides to reject a proposal to rezone the site to accommodate the Wisconsin International Academy.

WIA intends to re-purpose the hotel to house its international study program, which allows students from China and other foreign countries to study at Milwaukee-area high schools before attending American colleges.

In late-August, the Common Council was unable to produce a motion to approve or deny the rezoning and decided to hold over the decision until Sept. 9. In July, the Plan Commission voted 5-1 to recommended the council deny WIA's request.

Schmidt said that in recent months he has been working behind the scenes to help reach a solution whereby the Hilton and Anchorage are turned over to new owners with "new eyes and a fresh vision" and WIA finds an appropriate site elsewhere in the city. Schmidt said the arrangement would be a "triple win" for hotel owners, the WIA, and Glendale in the long term.

Schmidt sees potential for the Hilton site to become a "classic" establishment similar to the Pfister or Ambassador hotels in downtown Milwaukee.

"Those are perfect examples of what we can do here," said Schmidt.

While Schmidt has remained silent in recent months, the "dire and gloom" outlook presented by Hilton owners and their representives at recent city meetings caused him to speak out at the August council meeting and publish his report, the components of which he calls the "countervailing facts and variables."

"We don't want to be intimidated by dire and gloom," said Schmidt, "not a city that had the courage to go through with Bayshore ... Let's buckle down. We're Glendale. Look at what we did, the heroics of Bayshore, and the parks and (tax incremental financing) districts that (City Administrator) Dick Maslowski put together. He's one of the best around."

Schmidt added that rezoning the hotel site from commericial to residential could reduce city tax revenue — especially the room tax, which has been a sticking point in negotiations between Glendale and WIA — and shift some city expenses onto residential taxpayers. He has identified several sites throughout the city which WIA could use if the council votes against their Hilton site proposal, including the 10-acre former Dove Healthcare site on Bender Road.

"I wanted to offer to the Common Council that we're ready, willing, and able to assist them in finding a place for WIA," said Schmidt, "and help the current (Hilton) owners, who we value greatly, to find a buyer with younger eyes and a vision."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Glendale Common Council meeting on Hilton rezoning

WHEN: 7 p.m., Sept. 9

WHERE: Glendale City Hall, 5909 North Milwaukee River Parkway

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