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Best Western hotel under construction near University

October 23, 2008

The giant hole in the ground at the corner of Cascade Avenue and Main Street next to the Mariachi Loco restaurant will not remain a hole forever, as Twin Creek Construction Company builds a new Best Western hotel on the land.

The project is scheduled for completion in June 2009, and the foundation of the hotel has already been built. As of Oct. 14, Twin Creek was preparing to cast the concrete flooring and start on the underground plumbing and electrical systems, Twin Creek General Superintendent Dave Hackett said.

“We started removing trees and blacktop on June 30,” Hackett said in a telephone interview.

The hotel will be called River Falls Best Western. When finished, it will be around 100,000 square feet with three floors and one underground level for parking. This hotel will also have 86 rooms, a kitchen, banquet and retail areas, a swimming pool and a Jacuzzi.

The construction has been budgeted for about $5 to 7 million, Hackett said.

The City of River Falls allowed Martinsen Investment and Land Company, Inc. to use the land. In turn, Martinsen hired Twin Creek Construction to build the hotel and will lease the property to Best Western. River Falls will profit from the hotel in the form of taxes, River Falls City Administrator Bernie Van Osdale said.

“It’s part of a tax increment financing district. Once the project is completed on there, its value should be about $10 million. The city will receive a tax payment on that in the amount of approximately $136,000 [a year]. So we gave the land to them, and then we get repaid back out of those yearly tax payments,” Van Osdale said.

Sophomore Nikki Galvan said she disapproved of having a hotel by UW-River Falls, and would rather stay overnight with her friends for free.

“Personally, I don’t like it at all,” Galvan, a biology/pre-veterinarian major, said. “I came to this campus thinking it would be more of a small town feel, and with the hotel it’s going to be more…not.”

Graham Gausman, a senior majoring in agricultural studies, said the hotel could benefit the campus.

“If somebody’s going to the hotel and they check out the University, maybe someday they might want to go there,” Gausman said. “I’d say, for student’s visitors, it’d be convenient.”

Valerie Rolling, a junior secondary education major who lives off-campus, said she was shocked about such a large structure being built so close by.

“I think if I was a resident here, I would be concerned about the amount of traffic.” Rolling said.

It was Martinsen Investment and Best Western that wanted the hotel to be built, and not necessarily the City of River Falls, Van Osdale said.

“We own the property and we wanted to see some development on [it],” Van Osdale said. “[Martinsen] came forward and gave us a proposal that made sense, and we made an arrangement with them to be able to build the [hotel].”

Martinsen is based in Ashland, Wis. and headed by President Hank Martinsen, Sr.

Best Western was founded in 1946 and is based in Phoenix, Ariz. Its Web site claims it is “the world’s largest hotel brand with more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries,” with 2,288 of the hotels in North America alone.