HARBOR
Hotel deal very close for Tower
Marshall Helmberger

TOWER— The city of Tower and developers interested in building a 36-unit hotel near the city’s planned new harbor are very close to an agreement following a meeting on Tuesday.

Members of the city’s Harbor Renaissance Committee and representatives of Cobblestone Inn and Suites and BriMark Builders met Tuesday and are now working on final details for the planned project.

The city council is set to vote Monday to approve moving ahead with soil boring at two potential sites, one near the city’s current western entrance sign on Hwy. 169, and another on the south side of the planned harbor, where the parking lot at the former cross-country ski trailhead is located.

City Clerk-Treasurer Linda Keith said the soil boring will likely cost about $10,000, but the cost will be covered by taconite funds already earmarked for the project. Depending on the location selected, the city will need additional funding for road and utility extensions, and curb and gutter. Keith said the IRRRB typically has funding available for such improvements, once a development agreement is finalized.

The estimated $2.25 million hotel project has been in the works for several months, but Keith said it now appears all the funding is in place for the hotel construction itself. “We just have to tidy up the site and determine which soils are best,” said Keith. The hotel, which would include conference facilities and a pool, could become a centerpiece of the city’s harbor renovation. 

Wisconsin-based Cobblestone Hotels LLC, was created in 2008 and has become one of the nation’s fastest-growing hotel chains. The company focuses on small towns in underserved regions, where it constructs small hotels geared towards the upper end of the mid-scale hotel market. Cobblestone has built 35 hotels over the past six years, with another 55 either under construction or in the development stage, according to the company’s website.

The company opened a new 44-room hotel in Crookston in January and has several hotel projects under development in North Dakota as well. Similar Cobblestone projects have cost about $2-$3 million to build and typically employ about 12-15 people, both full- and part-time. A market study paid for by the city of Tower earlier this year confirmed sufficient demand to support the hotel project.

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Here's hoping this project makes it. Too often, across the Iron Range, these projects start out ambitiously but fizzle do to lack of funding. Both by the private sector participants and government funding. This is a nice looking project, I hope the planners have a solid plan for marketing. Although I don't live in Tower, I would like to see the old Tower Brewery restored and become part of this project. Good luck with the hotel/motel development.

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