New direction taken to get Hotel Northland up and running

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- In an attempt to get the embattled Hotel Northland project going again, Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt proposed a new plan to have the project enter into receivership at Tuesday's council meeting.

That means a court-appointed third party would take over the finances and decision making.

The measure passed 7-5.

This plan has two goals in mind.

First, pay the millions of dollars owed to vendors and subcontractors for work already done on the hotel. Once the debt is paid off, the receiver would put the hotel up for sale, deciding who the new owner would be. This option would not cost the city any money.

A different lender, Octagon Finance, is willing to put forward enough money to finish the project and pay the contractors.

Councilors have brought up the idea of foreclosure, but that would be a longer process.

Octagon says they are not interested in being a part of that and neither are the subcontractors waiting to get paid.

"We're firmly committed to getting the project open, the sub paid, having it open to the standard we all anticipated when we got in this project; but we're willing to do this in a receivership process, but not elsewhere," said J.P Williamson of Octagon Finance.

"The path forward that our company can support is the one that offers the least risk, the fastest payment for ourselves and contractors and fastest path to getting the hotel open," said Christopher Howald, CEO of Tweet/Garot Mechanical.

The second goal is to get the hotel open by July 2018.

Mayor Schmitt insists this new route won't impact the integrity of the project.

"The development agreement we put in place stays the same. It's still a 4-diamond, historically significant, tax credits still all apply. It will still be 160 room high end hotel, none of that is going to change. We are not going to change the façade, the interior, the intent of the property and that was part of our agreement to support this plan," said Schmitt.

Many at Tuesday's meeting are upset they haven't had more time to vet the process and really look into what this would mean for the city.

Other items the city council talked about include:

Redevelopment of Former Friary

Plans to redevelop the former Friary at Saint Mary of Angels Catholic Church took another stop forward.

The council approved rezoning the friary to be used for housing.

Church leaders want to use the building for modernized apartments and 20 newly built town homes on the property.

Rail Yard Project

The council is expected to vote on a development agreement that would expand the Rail Yard Project.

Developers want to expand the site that includes much of the old Larsen Green Canning site along North Broadway to convert three more empty warehouses into offices and town homes.

Last week the Redevelopment Authority approved the plan with the stipulation developers add 20 housing units to the area by 2020.

If approved, construction is scheduled to be done in the next five years.

9/11 Memorial Vote

Council members are expected to vote on a proposal to demolish the deteriorating 9/11 memorial in downtown Green Bay.

The Green Bay Public Arts Commission, Public Works, Police and Fire, have been working on plans to demolish the old memorial and build a new memorial at a different location.

Part of the proposal includes a ceremony to be held next month on September 11th with a moment of silence, remembering when the Twin Towers were hit and removing the steel beam once part of the World Trade Center.

The beam, along with the rest of the material making up the current memorial, would be placed in storage until a decision is made about a new memorial.

Funding for Brown County Expo Center

The council voted 10-2 on funding for a new Brown County Expo Center.

Some of it will be funded through a half-percent sales tax, but the majority would be through excess room tax from seven municipalities including Green Bay.

Now the measure goes to the Brown County Board on Wednesday.

Regardless, the half-percent sales tax will go into effect January 1st.



 
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