Downtown hotel in Port plans major renovations

Harborview to add new bar and restaurant, revamp facade in transition to independent boutique hotel

THE HOLIDAY INN HARBORVIEW in downtown Port Washington is about to get a facelift inside and out. Owner Eric Lund unveiled plans for the renovated hotel this week, as seen in this rendering (above) by Architectural Design Consultants Inc. that shows the north side of the building looking toward the east.
Ozaukee Press staff

The Holiday Inn Harborview in downtown Port Washington is  about to get a major facelift, inside and out.

Gone will be the carport at the entrance to the hotel, which will be enclosed to accommodate a new street-level bar and restaurant. The lobby will be expanded, new conference rooms added and a new patio created on the harbor side of the building.

There will be changes to the facade, including 110 new, energy efficient windows and colored, vertical panels and new trim added to the north side to help break up the brick facade.

“It’s kind of a sea of brick right now,” architect Michael Maas of Architectural Design Consultants Inc. said. “We’re trying to give it some character ... to bring a modern twist to the facade.”

The brick arch on the east end of the building will be set off with the hotel’s new logo, a stylized sail.

A new entry will also be created off the parking lot, which will also be updated and reconfigured.

Those changes are a precursor to owner Eric Lund’s decision to leave the Holiday Inn brand next year and, rather than affiliate with a national chain, operate an independent, boutique hotel called the Harborview.

“That gives us much more flexibility,” Lund said. “We can offer amenities that we couldn’t as a Holiday Inn. 

“For years, I’ve been contemplating becoming a boutique independent hotel. This location is so unique. People are coming here for an experience. We’re going to capture that. It’ll be great for the downtown and the community.”

Kathy Tank, executive director of the Port Washington Tourism Council, said the renovations will bring new life to the hotel.

“The fact they’re looking to invest this kind of money to make these upgrades is really good for the city,” she said. 

Visitors often look for lodging on the waterfront and stay at the Harborview because it’s the only game in town, but the proposed changes could make the hotel a destination that stands on its own, Tank said.

“I think that could be really great for downtown. That connection to the water is really important in people’s minds when they come to Port,” she said. “This property is a real jewel. I definitely think, in terms of people looking for a lakeside getaway, it will make Port Washington a desirable destination.”

Lund, CEO and owner of S&L Hospitality, said he expects to begin work on the hotel this fall, with the renovations completed by May 15. 

That way, the new hotel, which will have a contemporary nautical theme, will be ready for the busy tourist season that runs from Memorial Day through October, he said.

“Something needs to be done to make a splash and create a presence,” Lund said. “This is a great, solid building in the heart of Port Washington. It really deserves the opportunity to showcase itself.”

The renovations won’t be cheap, and Lund said he is talking to officials about the possibility of obtaining a low-interest loan from the county and perhaps seeking incentives from the city’s tax incremental financing district — perhaps even using a pay-as-you-go TIF — to help pay to move a large sewer pipe that runs under the carport area. 

While much of the work is being done to accommodate the change to an independent hotel, Lund said the renovations will also address the clean up and damage done during the August floods, when water and sewage collected on the lower level.

The lower level’s essentially been gutted, he said, which will make it easier for workers to meet the May deadline for the renovations.

“We felt that while it’s ripped up, we may as well fix the building up the way we always envisioned it,” Lund said, noting that the flood repairs alone will cost “a significant” amount.

“My expenses (from the flood) are well over $200,000,” he told the Design Review Board when presenting his plans Tuesday.

As part of the renovations, the current carport will be enclosed to create a new bar and restaurant called the Beacon that will specialize in steaks and seafood as well as sandwiches and wraps, Lund said. 

The new location will give the eatery increased visibility and be more convenient for people who aren’t staying at the hotel to frequent, he said. 

“It will be a game-changer,” Lund said of the plan to enclose the carport.

The basement area that had been occupied by the bar and restaurant will become conference and meeting rooms, he said, giving them views of the harbor and allowing access to the patio.

“They won’t appear to be in a lower-level basement anymore,” Lund said.

New fitness rooms, as well as a prep kitchen, laundry room and other facilities will round out the lower level, he said.

Lund said they will also build a ramp to provide handicapped access to the pool.

The entrance to the hotel will be moved, and the lobby increased by about four times its current size, Lund said. This will be done by removing three adjoining guest rooms.

“There will be a lot of things that are dramatic that guests will see immediately,” Lund said.

Because of the changes, the hotel will go from 96 rooms to 93 and the reconfigured parking lot will go from 94 stalls to 78, he said.

The Design Review Board spent the bulk of its time discussing various options for details such as the vertical panels and the color scheme they asked Lund and Maas to consider.

Member Melissa Didier noted that the renderings presented showed the color to be a teal shade, something she said resembles the color used by Aurora Medical Center.

“They’ve done such a good job of branding. To me, when I first looked at this, I though it’s a health care facility,” she said, suggesting they use a different shade for the building.

Board members were otherwise complimentary.

“I think it will bring in a lot of business,” member Adele Richert said. “It’s going to look really nice.”

Member Jeremy Hartline said the restaurant will be a welcome addition.

“It’s a good location for a restaurant,” he said, with the lake as a backdrop for diners. “You’ll get a lot of foot traffic. People will go there.”

The board will meet again at 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 13, to review changes in the facade that Lund and Maas are considering. The plan will then be considered by the Plan Commission on Thursday, Nov. 15.

The proposed renovations are the most recent changes to the hotel, which was built in 1973. 

Lund purchased the hotel in 1998, when it was the Best Western Harborview. In the early 2000s, he said, it became a Holiday Inn.

Last year, Lund said, new carpeting was installed in the halls and rooms, new drapes and state-of-the-art window treatments were added and new desks and lounge chairs placed in rooms.

After the renovations are completed, he said, he will look at other new furnishings for the rooms.


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