Today’s opening is a soft opening for the hotel. The grand opening will be on Dec. 11, said hotel general manager Lisa Farrell.
The hotel is located at 611 N. Broadway, in the 126-year-old Loyalty Building, which was built in 1886 as the headquarters for Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co.
“We’re excited,” Farrell said. “We’ve had a lot of phone calls. A lot of it is that it’s a historical building and people want to see what’s been done with it. And, there are a lot of people that like to stay at Hilton hotels.”
The hotel is now accepting guests. A small group is staying in nine rooms tonight, Farrell said.
The six-story, 92,000-square-foot building was previously used as a multi-tenant office building, but it struggled with a high vacancy rate. It was purchased by Rosemont, Ill.-based First Hospitality Group Inc., which one year ago began a $19 million project to renovate the building and convert it into a hotel.
Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater was the architect for the project. The general contractor was Madison-based Stevens Construction Corp.
The building features a five-story atrium topped by a large skylight, original granite and limestone facades, and marble stair treads and wainscoting.
“Our goal in transitioning this historic property was to preserve its exquisite architectural detail while creating a hotel that will become part of the city’s historic fabric for generations to come,” said First Hospitality president and chief operating officer Robert Habeeb.
A fitness center, business center and a bar and restaurant were added to the building as part of the renovation project. The hotel also has 4,500 square feet of meeting space.
The hotel has 75 employees.
The Hilton Garden Inn is the first of four new hotels under construction in the downtown area to open. A 205-room Marriott Hotel is under construction one block to the east of the Hilton Garden Inn, the 90-room Brewhouse Inn & Suites is under construction at the former Pabst brewery and a 381-room hotel is under construction adjacent to Potawatomi Bingo Casino.