NORFOLK, Neb. (KCAU) — The Norfolk Housing Agency approved an offer from Ho-Chunk Capital to buy the building in November 2023. It was officially acquired on August 4.

According to a release from the City of Norfolk, Ho-Chunk Capital has set a $14 million redevelopment project in motion that will convert the historic Kensington building into a boutique hotel.

The Kensington is on the National Historic Registry. It was designed to be an eight-story hotel in the 1920s, but there were numerous delays, setbacks, and bankruptcy that resulted in the building being scaled back to a five-story hotel with 15- rooms. The release added that the hotel was constructed with reinforced concrete with concrete a concrete roof and floors as well as a brick and stone exterior. The Housing Agency has owned the building since 1998.

“This begins a new chapter in the life of the Kensington,” said Mayor Josh Moenning, “We’re excited to watch its evolution and eventual return to a hub of activity and hospitality in the heart of downtown Norfolk. We appreciate Ho-Chunk Capital’s investment in Norfolk’s Growth and Confidence in our future.”

The release states that Ho-Chunk Capital, which is a division of Ho-Chunk, Inc., has become the region’s leading real estate developer over the last few years. Ho-Chunk Capital has made major investments in downtown Sioux City, and the Flatwater Crossing master-planned community in South Sioux City,

“We look forward to preserving and revitalizing this historic Norfolk building,” said CEO of Ho-Chunk Capital Dennis Johnson, “This purchase symbolizes Ho-Chunk Captial’s growing investment in both Norfolk and Nebraska. We are honored to work with the Norfolk Housing Agency on this project.”

Additionally, the release states that these investments help to improve local communities as well as generate long-term revenue for Ho-Chunk, Inc.’s mission in service of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.

The Norfolk Housing Agency has owned the Kensington for 25 years and we have done what we could to maintain and improve the building. The Kensington has been home to many citizens of Norfolk and has provided affordable commercial rental space for numerous startup businesses in the downtown. The Norfolk Housing Agency was fortunate to experience the re-birth of downtown Norfolk and were blessed to be a part of this community. It is now time for the Kensington to be handed off to Ho-Chunk Capital and allow their team to design, brand, and develop a boutique hotel that will enhance the cornerstone intersection at 4th Street and Norfolk Avenue.

Executive Director of the Norfolk Housing Agency Gary Bretschneider

The release specified that the Norfolk Housing Agency’s Mission is to assist low-income families and the Agency is exploring options to invest the proceeds of Kensington’s sale into a low-income housing project in Norfolk.