Plan Commission approves Potawatomi hotel plan

MILWAUKEE -- Potawatomi Bingo Casino cleared one hurdle Monday when the Milwaukee City Plan Commission approved its plan for a 20-story hotel. The decision keeps the project on track for a potential spring groundbreaking.

Jeff Fleming with the Department of City Development said the hotel would help the city in ways the casino cannot. Since the casino is on tribal land, it does not pay property taxes. The hotel, however, would not be on tribal ground and would pay both a property and room tax. Fleming says those dollars would go to county schools and the convention and visitors' bureau.

The commission did have some questions about the hotel's design. The drawings of the hotel had changed from when the project was announced in January. Potawatomi spokesman Ryan Amundson says it was not much of an issue once the changes were explained.

"It's typical for changes like this to occur during the planning process," Amundson said. "There's been some changes to the base of the hotel. There's been some changes to the color, and some of the materials have changed. There may continue to be some slight modifications as well."

Another difference between the hotel and casino would affect smokers. Smoking is allowed at the casino, but it would be prohibited at the hotel. Potawatomi also plans to expand its parking garage to accommodate the increased traffic.

The proposal will now go before the city's zoning committee. If members there approve the plan, the Common Council will vote on it. Potawatomi hopes to begin construction by late spring.