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River Falls hotel construction to be completed in June

April 30, 2009

The Best Western hotel down the street from UW-River Falls is expected to be finished in less than two months.

The three-story building, located on the corner of Cascade Avenue and Main Street, is around 100,000 square feet in size with an underground parking level. When opened, it will feature 86 rooms, a swimming pool, a kitchen and an interior restaurant and bar with a banquet area.

In cooperation with the City of River Falls, Martinsen Investment and Land Company will lease the property to Best Western. The City will profit from the hotel, which is worth about $10 million, in the form of tax payments at $136,000 a year.

The builder is Twin Creek Construction, which began the project on June 30, 2008, and is now in the final phase, Twin Creek General Superintendent Dave Hackett said.

“We just have to install kitchen equipment, casework, doors and hardware [and] a little siding,” Hackett said, adding that the project was right on schedule with no significant setbacks. “Any one that we had, we’ve overcome.”

The construction has stayed within a tentative budget of $6.5 to $8 million, and the prices of the rooms themselves are still being worked out by the hotel management. Formerly a vacant lot, the site was evaluated as an appropriate spot for the hotel last year, Martinsen representative John Garden said.

“River Falls has kind of been historically under-roomed,” Garden said. “We did a feasibility study on the whole area, and that indicated that it would be a good spot. And our early requests for room reservations […] has indicated so. We’re confident about it.”

Sophomore and animal science major Beth Marsh said the hotel could bring in more people and money to River Falls.

“I think it’s good for visitors to campus,” Marsh said. “[But] it doesn’t have to be as big as it is.”

Sophomore journalism major Jessie Behrman said the new hotel would create some new jobs in the city, but doubts about whether it was necessary.

“I don’t really think we need one. It’s an awkward spot, just in the middle of town,” Behrman said.

Junior English major Brian Aamodt said the Best Western may not get enough business to be successful.

“I don’t think River Falls is a particularly high-traffic area,” Aamodt said. “I don’t think they’ll turn much of a profit. Not enough to substantiate a building that size.”

As the development finance coordinator for Martinsen, Garden said the hotel would serve an important purpose.

“We wouldn’t spend a lot of money in a big investment if we weren’t sure [about it],” Garden said. “The economy has changed a little, but we had everything in place before [the recession].”

Martinsen is based in Ashland, Wis., and also owns other properties around the River Falls area, including Char’s Family Hair Care Beauty Salon and various housing developments.