Historic Wisconsin hotel's new owner invests in major updates

(Retlaw Plaza Hotel)

The Retlaw Plaza Hotel, a historic property located in Fond Du Lac, Wis., has a major overhaul on the way at the behest of its new owners.

Frantz Community Investors of Iowa bought the hotel on June 29 through an online auction, and have plans to completely rework the property. FCI has a history of buying ailing Midwest hotels and rejuvenating them, a plan they are bringing tot he Retlaw. More than $20 million is expected to be spent on the hotel’s renovations through the use of public funding, such as historic tax credits.

Steve Frantz will manage the hotel alongside Dennis Doucette of Legendary Hospitality. In a statement, Frantz said FCI’s most recent investment in the Retlaw was strategic, and that the city was in need of a hotel offering “affordable luxury” outside of mainstream brands. Frantz said that the city has lost out on possible business and leisure travel to nearby Sheboygan and Oshkosh, something he hopes to recapture with an updated historic property in the Retlaw.

"There are a lot of dollars that are leaving Fond du Lac right now," Frantz said. "A lot of folks go out of town to stay when they come here for business or other reasons."

FCI purchased the building, which opened in 1924, for under $1 million. The company has yet to secure financing for the development, though it plans on beginning construction fall 2016 and re-opening summer 2017. 

North Main Hospitality previously owned the hotel for five years before it feel into receivership. Frantz said the hotel’s previous operators failed because they weren’t willing to invest in the property, in addition to poor management. The updated Retlaw is expected to have a full spa and a restaurant geared toward jazz music.