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International school hopes to convert Tosa hotel into dorms

WAUWATOSA -- Finding the space to house up to 200 high school students takes a willing neighborhood and a big building, like a hotel.  The Wisconsin International Academy tried that plan without success in 2013, but this time they think will be different.

Dr. Matt Gibson has a dream for the Days Inn on Bluemound Road in Wauwatosa.

\"I feel as though we're in a really good spot right now,\" Gibson said.

Gibson is principal of the Wisconsin International Academy.  He recruits Chinese students to come to Wisconsin and learn English and western culture at five area schools.  Right now, about 110 students live in the Baymont Inn in Glendale, but they've outgrown that space.

\"It's frankly more difficult to run an international center along with a hotel running its hotel  establishment in the same place,\" Gibson said.

The Academy approached Glendale about buying the Milwaukee River Hilton last summer, but Glendale turned them down.  That's when the Days Inn owners contacted the school about buying its Wauwatosa  location, at which the restaurant and hotel have struggled.

Wauwatosa Mayor Kathy Ehley heads the city's plan commission.  She went to a public meeting at  the hotel last week where neighbors talked about improving the area.

\"Noise and traffic and how is this going to change things,\" Ehley said.  \"But many of them expressed this was an exciting opportunity as well and they hoped they could, as a neighborhood, have interactions with  the students.\"

The plan commission could move the proposal forward Monday night.  If everything works in the  Academy's favor, Gibson would like to complete the sale in late March and be operational by summer.

\"We really want to get them out into the community and have the community come here, because our goal is to provide them a western education,\" Gibson said.

The plan commission will meet Monday at 7 p.m. and could vote to send the proposal to the community development committee or they could hold off on the vote for a later date.

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