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Glendale panel rolls out welcome mat for hotel

Milwaukee River Hilton will become Holiday Inn

March 12, 2014

Glendale — Plans for renovation of the Milwaukee River Hilton received a friendly reception from the Plan Commission, which unanimously voted for use and occupancy approval Tuesday night.

Nagib Lakhani described the renovation during and after the meeting as a representative of CMH Milwaukee River LLC, a partnership which is in the process of buying the hotel, located at 4700 N. Port Washington Road.

"Almost every surface is going to have to be remodeled," Lakhami said. "A fair number of rooms will be upgraded. Our intent is to open up the lobby, so when you walk in you'll have a clear view of the river."

The hotel's current Hilton affiliation ends April 1. CHM Milwaukee plans to operate the hotel as an independent location until October or November, when it plans to affiliate with Holiday Inn, although renovation may not be complete until January.

Lakhami said Holiday Inn had drawn up a 54-page improvement plan, and inspectors from the chain visit every four to six weeks to check on progress.

"Every piece of furniture that goes in there has to be compliant with their standards," he said, promising a "significant upgrade" to the restaurant and lobby and an expanded ballroom.

Commissioner Ilmar Junge asked about the future of the hotel's Anchorage restaurant.

"It has a long, successful history," Lakhami responded. "It will continue with the same name and theme."

City officials had blocked an attempt last year to convert the hotel into lodging for international students, voicing a preference for keeping a hotel at the location. Comments from commission members Tuesday night were favorable to the new owners' plans.

"It sounds exciting," Junge said.

"It's going to really be gorgeous," 5th District Ald. Izzy Goldberg said.

Final building improvements will be submitted to the commission in the future.

Lakhani said members of the partnership operate about a dozen hotels, with a variety of chain affiliations, mostly in Canada and one in West Virginia.

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