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Cudahy proposes offices, hotel for O’Donnell Park (UPDATE)

By Caley Clinton

Milwaukee philanthropist Michael Cudahy introduced a new plan Monday for O’Donnell Park that includes a smaller parking structure, a hotel and a 12-story office building.

Cudahy indicated the hotel would likely be high-end, said Harold Mester, county board public information manager. Cudahy also proposed building a second 12-story building at a later date at the site of the county Transit Center, he said.

The proposal was discussed at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, which was called specifically to hear details of Cudahy’s latest plan, Mester said.

Cudahy did not suggest a proposed cost for the project, or mention any personal money he would contribute, said County Supervisor Theo Lipscomb. The latest proposal replaces Cudahy’s previous plan, introduced about a month ago, to raze the troubled O’Donnell Park parking structure and replace it with a new Milwaukee Public Museum and parking structure, he said.

Cudahy indicated Monday the museum relocation would have been very expensive, Mester said. The museum also requires 20-foot ceilings, which could have made the proposed new structure very tall, which Cudahy wanted to avoid, he said.

The new proposal includes plans for a parking structure on the north end of the site that would be about 20 percent smaller, Lipscomb said. Cudahy’s plan would also retain some park or plaza element, he said.

“The idea is to open up that view,” Lipscomb said.

One thing Cudahy did not address Monday is how these plans could affect the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, part of which is on top of the O’Donnell Park parking garage, Lipscomb said. When concern was raised about the decreased parking available under the new proposal, Cudahy did not seem concerned, he said.

The new plan is in the very early stages still, Lipscomb said.

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