A Minnesota-based development group would like to build a hotel next to the old Daniels’ Sentry Foods building in Whitewater.
The Whitewater Plan and Architectural Review Commission on Oct. 9 approved a proposal from Troy Hoekstra of United Development Solutions and Whitewater Hotel Partners to build a 70-unit hotel in the parking lot at 1260 W. Main St.
The hotel, surrounded by parking spaces, would have frontage on Main Street with the Sentry building behind it.
The 52,000-square-foot former Sentry building would be renovated and leased to UW-Whitewater as a Community Engagement Center, said Jonathan Enslin, vice chancellor for university advancement.
Enslin also is president of the UW-Whitewater Foundation, which he said is in the process of selling the land to the developer. The foundation bought the land last summer from Daniels Investment.
UW-Whitewater still is in the planning stages for how it would use the center, said Jeff Angileri, a UW-W spokesman.
Angileri said in an email the university is aiming to offer space for community clinics and academic programs, meeting spaces for the community, outreach and engagement programs, business development, and innovation services and storage space for art, archives and artifacts.
Enslin said the facility would be more accessible than campus buildings because of its parking availability.
The hotel would be run independently from the university, Enslin said. Once the foundation completes the sale of the land, the foundation will not be connected with the property, he said.
The cost for the 70-unit Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott was estimated at $9.5 million, with $6 million set as direct construction costs, according to an Aug. 18 letter from Hoekstra to the city of Whitewater.
Hoekstra could not be reached for comment.
The total cost of the project is about $18 million, the letter states.
The city is waiting to see revised plans from the developer that address some engineering, parking and fire safety questions, city planner Chris Munz-Pritchard said in an email.
Hoekstra in the letter outlined the job-creation prospects for the hotel. Total payroll “is expected to exceed $500,000 which in turn will be spent throughout the community an estimated seven times,” the letter states. “These wages equate to a financial impact to the community of $3.5 million.”
Among the jobs would be a general manager position with full benefits earning $50,000 per year, according to the letter. Four or five front desk staff members would earn $12 to $15 per hour with possible partial benefits, and eight to 12 part-time housekeeping staffers would make $11 to $14 per hour.
Hoekstra had shown interest in a different project: building a library attached to a hotel and medical clinic, similar to a project he had done in Platteville.
Some Whitewater residents had raised concerns about the potential location of the project—at Main and Franklin streets—because of what would happen to nearby historical sites.
The goal is to complete the sale of the Sentry property to the developer by the end of the year, Enslin said.