“FOR SALE” sign at a city-owned property, seen Tuesday
near downtown West Bend, beckons interested developers
to the former Gehl manufacturing site — where city
officials this week have unveiled plans to potentially
build a hotel and office building on part of the
McLean Bennett/Daily News
WEST BEND — The city could get a
new downtown-area hotel and office building where a factory once
Common Council members late Monday night greenlighted the next steps
in what’s still a fresh proposal at the former Gehl Manufacturing
site, near the corner of Water Street and Forest Avenue.
“It’s great to see something of this quality, this caliber, taking
place at that location,” said Mayor Kraig Sadownikow, who explained
the offices and hotel would go in separate buildings — both located
on about a 3.25-acre parcel.
Elected city leaders voted, after lengthy closed-session discussions
on the matter, to grant a developer 60 days to strike a purchase
agreement buying the land from the city.
City Administrator Jay Shambeau said the city could consider
splitting the nearly 8-acre former Gehl property in two to make way
for the project. Council documents this week suggest another
developer is devising plans to build something else on the
other half of the former manufacturing site, though details haven’t
been disclosed publicly.
Specific plans surrounding the hotel-office proposal — including how
large the buildings would be or how many rooms the hotel might
include — weren’t included in a statement by the city following
Monday night’s council vote. The development, according to the city,
would involve an agreement between West Bend and developers RafRad
LLC and Kinseth Hospitality.
Shambeau said it’s too early to discuss when the project could break
ground, though Sadownikow said that if approvals move along
steadily, “my hope is that we’ll see dirt moved in early 2020.”
Both West Bend officials said the arrangement would likely involve
selling the city-owned land to Germantown-based real estate
developer RafRad. Kinseth, a hotel management company headquartered
in Iowa that already manages the Hampton Inn & Suites here, would
likely run the hotel once completed.
“We feel that this project will not only fill a need in the downtown
area but will further draw visitors and the community to the area,”
Paul Stangl, an agent with RafRad, said in a written statement
released Monday by the city.
“We have many great initiatives happening in our downtown,” Shambeau
said in his own prepared statement, released after Monday’s council
meeting. “Combine those with the positive citywide business and
residential energy, there is no question why this makes a lot of
It’s not the first time a developer has eyed the former Gehl
property, which sits near the Milwaukee River just blocks from West
Bend’s downtown. Shambeau said developers had recently proposed
building commercial and housing facilities there, but neither
proposal ever moved forward.
The acreage was once home to a factory, but it’s now mainly vacant
after the former manufacturing facility there was torn down years
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