GREEN BAY - The now-named developer of Green Bay's historic Hotel Northland says it has big plans for the nearly 80-year-old structure.
Located in downtown Green Bay, community leaders say now is the time to transform the building into a boutique hotel. Initial plans call for 100 rooms and first-floor retail space.
James Hobart, with Frantz-Hobart Community Investment, says the project will probably cost about $30 million and is worth it to restore the hotel to its former glory.
"We fell in love with it, I mean it's just got beautiful historic interior to it, it's got a lot of history to it," said Hobart, speaking to FOX 11 in a phone interview Thursday.
A partner of the firm, Hobart says the structure has "good bones" and can be a destination-type hotel.
"Our intention is to bring the Northland back to a three or four diamond-type hotel that it deserves to be," said Hobart.
The three-year-old Cedar Rapids, Iowa company has seven completed properties in its portfolio, and about 17 more in development.
Purchased for $3.1 million, Hobart admits taking on the Northland will be different.
"The Northland is definitely on a larger scale," said Hobart of the Northland, comparing it to the Cooper Wagon redevelopment in downtown Dubuque, Iowa. "But we have some family relationships and ties with hotel management, so we're very comfortable with moving to the level of managing a hotel."
Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt announced the agreement with Frantz-Hobart Wednesday during his State of the City address. He said all three developer candidates had great experience, but now Frantz-Hobart has 120 days to get its ducks in a row.
"Everything is pretty much on track," Schmitt told FOX 11's Ben Krumholz of the Hotel Northland plans Wednesday night. "We want to make sure we can get the financing together to get this thing done."
Downtown Green Bay Executive Director Jeff Mirkes says the area can support this type of venture.
"The market research has been done," said Mirkes Thursday. "The area's really ready for that. With everything, especially in this neighborhood, Schreiber (Foods), Associated Bank, the KI expansion; there's the right feel in this neighborhood."
Hobart told me the company will hire a local architect to do the design work.
On Monday, Schmitt and area state legislators unveiled proposed legislation that would aid in the redevelopment of historic buildings in Wisconsin by increasing the state's Historic Preservation tax credit to match the federal government. It's a piece of legislation Schmitt said is essential for the redevelopment of the Northland, as older buildings are costlier to redevelop.
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