As Olympia closes, mayor anticipates future development
Expects request for proposal responses from potential developers, business owners

By BRANDON ANDEREGG - Special to The Freeman 

Jan. 13, 2018

OCONOMOWOC — Although Oconomowoc may feel the impact of a community sans Olympia Resort: Hotel, Spa & Conference Center, Mayor Dave Nold is optimistic that new plans will bring vibrancy to the Summit Avenue Corridor.

The storied resort and conference center built in 1972 is a 252-room hotel that hosted weddings, concerts and conventions. In August 2017, the resort was up for sale for $5.9 million.

Rumors circulated Wednesday that the resort was closing after the Oconomowoc High School Jazz Dance and the Oconomowoc Rotary Club’s Brewfest had to be relocated to different venues earlier this week. Rotary Club Director John Scambler told a Freeman reporter Wednesday that Olympia management notified the resort was slated to close Jan. 31.

On Nov. 7, the Common Council approved a resolution authorizing the Community Development Authority to seek interest proposals from groups who would like to improve a portion of the Summit Avenue Corridor. Nold said developing the corridor has been in the works for a long time.

“This has been going on even before Olympia decided to announce their closing,” said Nold. “It’s been dormant [the corridor] for so long and we want to get activity in that stretch of town.”

Nold said the impact of Olympia’s closure is not yet clear but he predicts a shortterm loss for a long-term gain. In the next few weeks, Nold said he expects to get responses from several requests for proposal (RFPs) documents sent to potential developers and business owners.

“We hate to see anybody go out of business, but we have to move forward and come up with new ideas and continue to make the city a vibrant place to live and work,” said Nold.

With Oconomowoc’s strategic location between Madison and Milwaukee, low taxes and great schools, it is likely developers will consider Oconomowoc, he said. And once they do, Oconomowoc will have the land and the means to create a new vision for the corridor, he said.

“I’m sure whoever does development is going to want to have city assistance,” said Nold. “And we’re more than willing to work with them to come up with a solution that’s beneficial to them and the city.”

In the meantime, Nold said Oconomowoc will offset the impact with the $1,000,000 in housing and retail development in Oconomowoc including the Mills Fleet Farm and the new elementary school, day care center and church on the northeast side of town.

New opportunity

In the past, Olympia has been competitive because of its ability to gain revenue through hotel rooms, food and beverages, which made its banquet room cost less than other venues, according to Waukesha County Exposition Center Manager Teri Adlam.

With Olympia no longer in the market, venues like the Waukesha Expo Center and others similar in size will likely see increased opportunities, said Adlam.

“There’s one less competitor in the marketplace,” said Adlam. “It may help us pick up future events.”

The Oconomowoc High School Jazz Dance is one example of an event that relocated to the Expo Center. Adlam said she heard other events would be moving to the Oconomowoc Community Center and the Oconomowoc Rotary Club’s Brewfest will now be held at La Belle Golf Club.