UW-Whitewater officials have announced plans for a developer to break ground on a hotel and university “community engagement center” by this fall.

In a release Thursday, UW-Whitewater officials announced the dual project—a planned, $18 million, 70-room Fairfield Inn and Suites and a rehab to turn the adjacent, 52,000-square-foot former Daniels’ Sentry Foods building into the UW-Whitewater Community Engagement Center—will start in September.

The projects were announced in fall 2017. At that time, hotel plans had awaited city approval. The university’s foundation was working to sell the Sentry property to a developer.

Both properties are at 1260 W. Main Street in Whitewater.

Minnesota developer United Development Solutions this year bought the former Sentry property from the UW-Whitewater Foundation. UW-Whitewater will lease the community engagement center when United Development completes it. United development would develop both projects.

Sara Kuhl, UW-Whitewater’s assistant vice chancellor of marketing and communications, said the projects could break ground prior to a Sept. 10 ceremony planned to kick off construction.

Grace Crickette, UW-Whitewater vice chancellor of administrative affairs, said the community engagement center should be complete by February, and the hotel could be completed at about that time, too.

Crickette didn’t have project costs estimates. She said United Development Solutions was paying to build the two projects.

In the release, UW-Whitewater officials said the community engagement center would include a business development center for business consulting for entrepreneurs along with a hands-on safety lab to train workspace inspectors.

It also would have clinical suites for counseling, speech-language therapy and social work faculty to serve clients, along with a computer center for students and community members to receive specialized training and certification along with an art gallery and continuing education services.

UW-Whitewater Chancellor Beverly Kopper said the building would “expand and enhance our training and certification programs to serve even more students and adult learners.”

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