It’s been the talk of the town for more than a decade – when will someone build a hotel in Cottage Grove?

The answer is … now.

Greywolf Partners, owned by local resident Joe Wagner, and a team of investors and builders broke ground Wednesday, Aug. 12, on what will become the village’s first hotel – a five-story, 82-room Comfort Suites hotel.

“This is a real victory for the community,” said Paul Wagner, COO and general counsel at Greywolf. “They’ve been looking for a hotel for a long time. Greywolf Partners is very happy to be able to deliver on that for you. It takes a lot to bring this type of project together. It can’t be done by one group alone. It takes a team to make it come together.”

He and brother Joe Wagner, CEO of Greywolf, repeatedly thanked the community, village officials, lending partners, builders and their management team during the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Since the day we moved in, all we heard was, ‘You have the golf course, you’re hanging out down at 1855,’ whatever it might be, and the conversation was always, ‘Hey, we really need a hotel.’ We’ve been hearing that a long time,” said Joe Wagner, who moved just north of the village in 2004-05. “I never dreamed that we’d be the ones to do it. This is our first hotel, and we’re really excited to be doing it here. I’m glad it worked it out.”

The hotel will be built at 1607 Landmark Drive.

“What a historical day for Cottage Grove,” Village President John Williams said. “What a neat venue for our visitors when they come to Cottage Grove and really take in more than just a day visit.”

Greywolf Partners is a full-service commercial and real estate company headquartered in Milwaukee with executive offices in Cottage Grove.

The Comfort Suites is owned by Badger Hotel Group LLC.

The hotel will be managed by S&L Hospitality, owned by Eric Lund and based in Verona. The development management company is no stranger to the hotel scene.

“We’ve done a number of hotels just like this in communities surrounding Madison,” Lund said. “We’ve got 10 hotels in our portfolio. We have some indoor waterpark resorts and business hotels and leisure hotels. We’re just excited to be here as part of the team.”

Joe Wagner said Lund and his team were beneficial in making hotel connections and knowing who to talk with regarding their desires.

“We’re changing the look of Comfort Suites,” Joe Wagner said. “It’s a prototype for them. We’ve changed the colors. They really were an orange and a brown type of look. We went to them and said that we want to Greywolf this thing a little bit here. We want some grays and blues, and want to be more modern.”

Paul Wagner congratulated his brother on successfully navigating this way to reach the day for a groundbreaking.

“He’s done a great job just pulling all of these groups together to make this vision happen today,” Paul Wagner said. “This is just the start of things.”

Joe Wagner alluded to his next project.

“We bought that land across the highway, and the NorthGrove Corporate Park is coming,” he said.

Amenities in the hotel will include an indoor pool and hot tub, fitness room, meeting room, breakfast area and an outdoor space.

“Additionally, we are constructing the hotel with an insulated concrete form (ICF) system, which will offer an exceptional guest experience by offering superior sound insulation, temperature control and energy efficiency,” Todd Rizzo, senior vice president of Greywolf Partners. “ICF is an uncommon construction method for multistory buildings and considered a higher end delivery model, which differs from the traditional stick-built wood frame structures that most hotels use in their construction.”

In early May, the village and Greywolf signed on to a developer’s agreement that provides financial incentives to the business in exchange for meeting building and operational requirements.

First, the village will provide an incentive grant of $750,000, payable in three installments: $187,5000 when the village issues a building permit; $187,500 when 50 percent of construction is reached (meaning the developer has spent $4.7 million on developing the hotel; and $350,000 when the village issues an occupancy permit.

With the issuance of the occupancy permit, the village will also issue $706,670 in a municipal revenue obligation at no interest as long as the project generates sufficient excess tax increment to make scheduled installment payments.

Finally, the village will agree to pay the developer 30 percent of all room taxes paid by the developer for 10 years. The village collects an 8 percent tax per room.

Greywolf estimates the Comfort Suites property will have a total assessed value of at least $5.25 million as of Jan. 1, 2022.

The hotel is expected to open in the late summer or early fall of 2021.

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