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City council approves project to convert Rhinelander hotel into affordable apartment units

The Rhinelander City Council Planning Commission has approved a proposal to convert a Rhinelander motel into affordable, low-income housing. The conversion would add 30 apartment units to the city’s housing stock.

The city of Rhinelander could soon have more affordable housing.

The Rhinelander City Council Planning Commission recently approved a proposal to convert the Rodeway Inn into apartment units.

The motel on Kemp Street currently has about 40 units. If the developer moves forward with the proposal, those units will be converted into 10 one-bedroom apartment units and about 20 studios.

Rhinelander Mayor Kris Hanus says that will go a long way in opening up more housing for the Rhinelander community.

“We could fill 200 units right now,” he says. “As more businesses open up and expand, we’re going to need more workers, who are going to need more housing.”

Given the project receives final approval from the state, developer Tim Jewell anticipates the apartments could be ready by the end of the summer.

If that’s the case, they’ll be rented for about $600 each.

Several units will be ADA compliant to possibly be used by seniors. Others will come fully furnished. Those could be used by travel nurses and students completing internships.

This is not the first hotel in the region to be converted into affordable housing. Similar projects have recently been completed in Arbor Vitae and Laona.

Hanus says that’s because converting an existing building is much easier and cheaper than building a new one.

“The cost of materials to build new are just skyrocketing right now,” he says. “With interest rates going up, it makes it harder and harder to build affordable housing with a new build. One of the ways to fight that is find a way to convert an existing property to be more beneficial to the community.”

The Rodeway Inn is just one of several housing projects in the works right now.

Hanus says a Habitat for Humanity house is underway and new luxury apartments are set to open soon in Rhinelander across from Central Elementary.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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