The Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission’s delay of plans to build a Marriott Hotel downtown has prompted one alderman to call for a review of its authority and possible abolishment of the commission.
Alderman Terry Witkowski said he would call for the Common Council’s review this week.
“We need to have a full review of their procedures,” Witkowski said. “By its actions, the commission is delaying and preventing the Common Council from taking action on an important proposal.”
Since October, developers have been talking about building a $50 million, 200-room Marriott Hotel at the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Milwaukee Street in downtown Milwaukee, a move that would require the razing of five buildings that are part of an historic district.
A commission decision on the proposal was delayed in November because the meeting notice did not state there would be a public hearing. In December, the commission approved the plans conditionally requiring that the facade of the buildings be maintained.
Last week, the developers released new plans that saved or restored the facade along Wisconsin Avenue but not Milwaukee Street.
The commission will meet to discuss those plans Monday. It has the authority to delay the proposal for up to a year. If the commission votes to reject the plans, the Common Council could override the decision with a two-thirds vote.
“There is no other board or commission that can hold up a project,” Witkowski said. “They are appointed and they do not take into account the overall health of the city when they act. We are elected representatives and must consider all the implications.”
Alderman Robert Bauman, a member of the commission who has been an outspoken opponent of the project, could not immediately be reached.
Mayor Tom Barrett is a strong proponent of the development, saying it will bring jobs and economic development to the city.
“We need to send the message to developers that reasonable ideas move forward in Milwaukee,” Barrett said last week.