Milwaukee has a strong brewing heritage, and the former Pabst Brewery is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The brewery is currently undergoing a complete overhaul and is in the midst of becoming a thriving community of residential apartments, retail stores, office space, educational facilities, and a converted, extended-stay hotel called The Brewhouse Inn & Suites.
The all-suite hotel will be located in what were once the brew house and mill house buildings of the property. The project is being managed by Gorman & Company, a real estate development firm that specializes in residential housing properties. The development group is also responsible for creating a 95-unit, loft-style apartment building in the brewery complex called Blue Ribbon Apartments as part of the overall revitalization project.
Laura Narduzzi, regional manager for Gorman & Company, explains that the Brewhouse Inn & Suites will be the company’s first foray into the hotel business. She says that when traditional financing dried up a few years ago, Gary Gorman, chief executive officer of Gorman & Company, decided to explore different methods for securing development financing. Through the EB-5 program, which gives residency visas to foreign investors, Gorman began to work with a broker in China and secured a second location at the Pabst Brewery. Initial plans for the buildings included more residential housing, but since apartments don’t qualify as an investment through the EB-5 program, Gorman decided to move forward with developing a hotel.
“It is the first time we are dipping our toes into the hotel industry,” says Narduzzi. “And here we are, building a 90-suite, boutique, extended-stay hotel in one of the great buildings of the Pabst brewery.”
Gorman & Company took advantage of federal historic preservation tax credits and are working closely with the Wisconsin Historical Society to maintain many of the original features of the brewery.
“The brewing kettles are still in the building and that will really be a focal point for the hotel,” says Narduzzi. The brew house building also features a two-story stained glass window etched with a picture of King Gambrinus, the unofficial patron saint of beer, that will be kept as part of the hotel’s design. Other original components that will make their way into the finished product include some of the original flooring, the steel columns of the building, and tiles from the historic brewery.
But Peter Northard, general manager of the Brewhouse Inn & Suites, explains that the property will appeal to the modern-day traveler as well. “What we’re trying to do is marry the heritage of that historic building with 21st century amenities to give the guests a very unique lodging experience,” he says.
The hotel will be comprised mostly of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom suites, each with a kitchen and work area. Wireless Internet will be offered throughout the property and hard-wired functionality will be available in rooms. And although the hotel is being marketed primarily as an extended-stay property, Narduzzi explains that the Brewhouse Inn & Suites will also accommodate transient guests and families who wish to spend fewer nights.
The project is expected to be complete by the end of the year, with full functionality in early 2013. The hotel also has plans to launch a food and beverage component to the property, but have not yet reached an agreement with anyone specific at this time. Northard does explain that the hotel restaurant will reflect the brewing heritage of the building and the city of Milwaukee.
“The general feeling in Milwaukee when you talk about the Pabst brewing complex is all about excitement and good, fond memories of what built Milwaukee,” says Narduzzi. “This isn’t just a four-walls-in-a-white-box hotel. This hotel is going to be able to create a story and create a great experience for individuals who stay here.”