A new concert venue, as well as a hotel and a professional soccer stadium, are planned for the west side of downtown Milwaukee — a project its supporters say will create a new entertainment district and transform a largely dead spot.
The mixed-use development will be built on an 11-acre site that includes the former Ramada Hotel, 633 W. Michigan St., according to an announcement Friday by Bear Development LLC and Kacmarcik Enterprises LLC.
Groundbreaking for the project is scheduled for early fall, with the stadium and venue expected to open in spring 2024. The project will also include 99 apartments, as well as restaurant and retail spaces at street level.
The 8,000-seat soccer stadium is set to house a professional soccer team that Kacmarcik Enterprises owner Jim Kacmarcik plans to bring to Milwaukee.
More information about this team and its league affiliation will be announced shortly.
The stadium will also house the Marquette University men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse teams, as well as community events, recreational programs and other sporting purposes. These Marquette teams now play at the university’s Valley Fields facility, where they will continue to train.
The new soccer field with artificial turf will be used for around 200 events from March to November.
Kacmarcik, president of Kapco Inc., a Grafton-based metal fabrication and stamping company, has invested in other sports and entertainment businesses including as the principal owner of Forward Madison FC, Madison’s USL League One franchise.
A USL franchise that’s a notch below Major League Soccer would be a big boost for Milwaukee’s soccer scene, which now features The Wave, an indoor team that plays in Major Arena Soccer League.
“Milwaukee is one of the greatest sports cities in the United States, and we’re excited to bring professional outdoor soccer to the community,” Kacmarcik said in a statement.
Pabst would operate the venue
The Pabst Theater Group, whose concert venues include the Pabst Theatre, the Riverside Theatre, the Miller High Life Theater and the downtown Turner Hall Ballroom, will operate the new 3,500-seat development’s indoor entertainment venue.
The other operator of the venue will be “one of the world’s leading concert promoters,” according to the announcement, which provided no additional information.
The facility will host national tours 80 to 100 nights a year for a total of more than 300 events a year.
It will be standing room with some VIP seating, said Gary Witt, chief executive officer of Pabst Theater Group.
That will differentiate the venue from most other Pabst Theater Group locations, which generally use reserved seating, Witt told the Journal Sentinel.
That will bring various acts that prefer the general admission format, he said.
These include artists like Modest Mouse, Spoon and Phoebe Bridgers.
The announcement of the new venue comes a week after FPC Live dropped plans for a 108,000-square-foot, 4,000-room and 800-room venue to be built near Maier Festival Park.
However, FPC Live is reportedly now considering a similarly sized venue on the site of the former downtown BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Hotel would overlook stadium
The new Pabst concert hall will be attached to a nine-story hotel with 140 rooms.
Plans for the upscale hotel, owned by Bear Development, include a full-service bar and restaurant overlooking the soccer stadium.
The 11-acre development is bordered by North Sixth Street to the east, West Michigan Street to the north, and the I-794/I-43 interchange to the east and south.
The developers buy the site from Marquette University. The site includes a large vacant lot as well as the former Ramada and other buildings, including one by Marquette, which is slated for demolition.
University officials say they will be looking for a new home for the Marquette Behavior Analysis Program, located at 525 N. 6th St.
Bear Development announced plans for 140 apartments on the western part of the site in 2021.
However, this five-story building will now have 99 units – the result of Bear Development’s efforts to reduce costs due to the impact of inflation on building material prices.
The apartments are partly financed with federal tax credits for affordable housing.
Developers receiving tax credits are generally required to rent at least 85% of a building’s apartments below market to individuals earning no more than 80% of the local median income.
“We’re thrilled to be working with the City of Milwaukee and other community partners to transform a long-dormant site into a vibrant sports and entertainment district and enhance the opportunities to live, work and play downtown,” said SR Mills, CEO a statement from Bear Development.
Mills said the funding package could include a tax district with incremental funding. This would require the consent of the Joint Council
The sports and entertainment district expects to create hundreds of new jobs and attract 1 million visitors annually, according to developers.
“This new development reinvents and promises to bring new life to a highly visible strategic corridor and provides an exceptional opportunity to connect the Marquette University campus and Westown neighborhood with the renaissance of downtown Milwaukee,” said Marquette- President Michael R. Lovell in a statement.