Proposed Racine hotel and event center dies after mayor’s veto upheld

City will revisit downtown Racine hotel plans at a future date

The long-discussed hotel and event center in downtown Racine is dead following the City Council’s decision Tuesday not to override Mayor Cory Mason’s veto to fund the project.

Rendering of the proposed hotel.

“The project we have envisioned we are not prepared to move forward with,” said James Palenick, Racine city administrator. “We cannot do this without unity. It is clear we were not going to get there with this project.”

Since August 2016, Racine officials have discussed plans for a $55 million, 208,000-square-foot hotel and event center at 322 Lake Ave. The project would have included a three-story, 3,500-seat event center and a seven-story, 150-room adjoining hotel.

The project would be paid for, in part, by a yearly tax increase to homeowners of $11.78 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

When the project was first announced, Racine was in the running to land the Milwaukee Bucks minor League ( G-League) NBA team. The Bucks instead choose Oshkosh leaving many Racine residents questioning the need for the event center.

Mason, who was elected mayor in October, campaigned on a promise to kill the event center project.

On Nov. 17, he vetoed funding included in the city’s 10-year capital improvement plan and 2018 operating budget.

The City Council voted seven to eight Tuesday to override Mason’s veto. A supermajority of 10 to five would have been needed for the override to have been successful.

City Council President Dennis Wiser said during an interview in mid-October that the event center and a hotel even larger than 150 rooms is needed now that Foxconn is coming to Racine County. Wiser could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Palenick agreed a hotel is needed in downtown Racine and said the city will continue to study the future of the site.

“There is no question we need additional, quality lodging space and more quality convention space,” Palenick said. “Does an arena bowl make sense? I don’t know. We will revisit those things. They key is working with a public, private partnership to assure the citizens there is no burden on the property tax payers. We heard that message loud and clear.”

The long-discussed hotel and event center in downtown Racine is dead following the City Council’s decision Tuesday not to override Mayor Cory Mason’s veto to fund the project.

Rendering of the proposed hotel.

“The project we have envisioned we are not prepared to move forward with,” said James Palenick, Racine city administrator. “We cannot do this without unity. It is clear we were not going to get there with this project.”

Since August 2016, Racine officials have discussed plans for a $55 million, 208,000-square-foot hotel and event center at 322 Lake Ave. The project would have included a three-story, 3,500-seat event center and a seven-story, 150-room adjoining hotel.

The project would be paid for, in part, by a yearly tax increase to homeowners of $11.78 per year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

When the project was first announced, Racine was in the running to land the Milwaukee Bucks minor League ( G-League) NBA team. The Bucks instead choose Oshkosh leaving many Racine residents questioning the need for the event center.

Mason, who was elected mayor in October, campaigned on a promise to kill the event center project.

On Nov. 17, he vetoed funding included in the city’s 10-year capital improvement plan and 2018 operating budget.

The City Council voted seven to eight Tuesday to override Mason’s veto. A supermajority of 10 to five would have been needed for the override to have been successful.

City Council President Dennis Wiser said during an interview in mid-October that the event center and a hotel even larger than 150 rooms is needed now that Foxconn is coming to Racine County. Wiser could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Palenick agreed a hotel is needed in downtown Racine and said the city will continue to study the future of the site.

“There is no question we need additional, quality lodging space and more quality convention space,” Palenick said. “Does an arena bowl make sense? I don’t know. We will revisit those things. They key is working with a public, private partnership to assure the citizens there is no burden on the property tax payers. We heard that message loud and clear.”

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