Downtown Marriott hotel officially under construction

A wall was smashed in downtown Milwaukee Monday, to kick off construction for a new downtown Marriott hotel. The $54 million project is expected to add millions of dollars to the local tax base, and create hundreds of jobs.

The hotel will be constructed on the southwest corner of East Wisconsin Avenue and North Milwaukee Street, surrounding the Johnson Bank building. Plans for the hotel overcame staunch opposition, as original plans called for tearing down historic buildings on Wisconsin Avenue. Now, about 30,000 square feet of the buildings' facade will be preserved.

"This was a very significant piece and redirection of the project because it allows the property to fit better in the local marketplace, and its neighborhood. It is representative of the great history of Milwaukee, and at the same time, it allows us to bring a full-service, brand-new hotel with modern facilities to the community," Ed Carow with Jackson Street Management said.

The Marriott will be a 200-room, full service hotel, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he sees the hotel as an opportunity to put people back to work. The hotel is expected to create up to 450 construction jobs, along with hotel positions once the facility opens. The hotel is slated to open in mid-2013, and is being privately funded.