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With bids in on Potawatomi expansion project, construction likely to start in Dec.

It was a mix of new and returning contractors who submitted bids this week for work on the Potawatomi hotel and casino expansion project.

Gilbane Building Co.’s Milwaukee office and Greenfire Management Services, a Milwaukee-based construction-management company owned by the Potawatomi Business Development Corp., are overseeing the construction of a second hotel tower at the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino near Canal Street.

Kyle Merrill, project executive with Gilbane, said the project will add 119 new hotel rooms on top of an existing four-story structure. The new 19-story hotel tower will be the same height as the first hotel tower, which was built in 2014.

The end result will be a “true L-shaped building,” Merrill said.

The added rooms will bring the total number at the hotel to 500. The 180,000-square-foot addition will also have a spa, a new pastry kitchen and additional meeting space, all of which will be placed in a four-level infill area.

Gilbane and Greenfire had also worked together on the construction of the casino’s first hotel tower.

Bids were due back to the project team on Monday for subcontracting work on the second tower. Merrill said on Thursday that the bidders turned out to be a good mix of those who worked on the first tower and some new companies, and that the team was reviewing a number of the proposals. He declined to name exactly which companies had submitted offers.

Potawatomi officials say the new hotel will attract more visitors to the hotel and casino, which already brings in more than 6 million visits each year. Merrill said care is being taken to prevent the construction work from interfering greatly with operations at the existing hotel tower.

Still, since crews will now be working near an existing hotel tower, the current project will present a few more risks than the previous expansion.

“From a safety and security perspective, certainly (the project) is a bit more challenging,” Merrill said.

Ryan Amundson, a spokesman with Potawatomi, said the construction work is expected again by the end of the year.

Merrill said crews will first start with underground work, installing plumbing and new piles. He referred to this as the “enabling work” that would set the stage for the construction of the new building’s floors.

“We’re hoping (to start) December,” he said.

With all the work, one feature of the Potawatomi site won’t need to be changed. Its parking garage was built six stories tall and has 1,309 parking spaces, making it already large enough to accommodate the additional traffic the second hotel wing is expected to attract.

The hotel and casino opened in 1991 as a bingo hall, and has since undergone several expansions since. It features 2,500 slot machines, nearly 100 table games, a 1,300-seat bingo hall, seven restaurants and a 500-seat theater.

About Alex Zank, [email protected]

Alex Zank is a construction reporter for The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 414-225-1820.

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