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Glendale council delays Hilton rezoning decision

Hotel to close regardless of choice

Aug. 27, 2013

Glendale — The fate of the Hilton Hotel and Anchorage restaurant off Port Washington Road will remain unknown until September.

After a lengthy presentation and public input session Monday, the Common Council could not produce a motion to either approve or deny Wisconsin International Academy's request to rezone the Hilton/Anchorage site and convert the buildings into a multiuse facility with a student dormitory, classrooms, food service area and administrative offices. Rather, the council decided unanimously to give WIA's proposal more thought before again considering it an upcoming Sept. 9 meeting.

If approved, the re-purposed site would be the home of WIA's international study program, which allows students from China and other foreign countries to study at Milwaukee-area high schools before attending American colleges. WIA currently rents rooms in the nearby Baymont Inn while international students attend local high schools like Pius XI, Dominican, St. Thomas More and Catholic Memorial.

"It's creating growth and it will create change," WIA Principal Matthew Gibson said. "...We just humbly ask your approval of rezoning so this can be our new home."

Hotel to close

The Hilton license for the hotel expires on April 15, 2014, owner Robert Eckerman said.

Peter Nichols, of Atlanta, Ga.-based hotel brokerage firm Hodges Ward Elliot, said the nearly 40-year-old facility is at the end of its life, that Hilton won't renew its license or re-brand the building under one of its other franchises, and that every hotel company he approached has said the building requires too much remodeling to present a viable business opportunity.

"We've explored this to death," Nichols said. "We've talked to over 1,000 different hotel companies. They all came back and said it doesn't work."

Regardless of whether the WIA academy is approved, the hotel will close in April once the Hilton license expires, Eckerman said.

"It's a certainty that we'll have a losing operation," Eckerman said. "...After April 15, the doors will not be open at that hotel."

Residents mixed

Numerous Glendale residents and business owners spoke out on both sides of the issue.

Those in support of rezoning and the academy said the project is a good way to keep the site viable, and that the council should embrace the progress and diversity that the international school provides.

"This is it. This is the future right here," resident Patty O'Neil said. "Our kids deserve to grow up in a diverse community."

Residents against the change said the council should trust in the past zoning decision made by the city and shouldn't ignore the historical success the hotel has had at the site.

"There's a lot of time out there. There's a lot of potential out there," resident Gary Gussick said. "...It's a portal from Milwaukee to the city, to bring people into Glendale, our beloved city."

NEXT STEP

WHAT: Glendale Common Council meeting on Hilton rezoning

WHEN: 7 p.m. Sept. 9

WHERE: Glendale City Hall, 5909 N. Milwaukee River Parkway

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