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Businessman buys Lakeland Hotel: Realtor considers sports bar-themed restaurant for historic building’s first floor

Tom Amberg this week bought the Lakeland Hotel building in downtown Willmar, show here in May 2011. Tribune file photo by Ron Adams

WILLMAR — Tom Amberg of 1st Minnesota Realty of Willmar this week purchased the historic Lakeland Hotel building in downtown Willmar.

Amberg bought the building from Bremer Bank of Willmar, which had obtained the building two years ago in a mortgage foreclosure. The purchase price was not disclosed. Amberg had been managing the building.

Amberg said the building will continue to be used for residential purposes and he will work to keep the present tenants, but the number of apartments will be reduced by combining several smaller units into larger apartments with full bathrooms and kitchenettes.

Amberg said he is looking into changes on the main floor retail area and possibly combining two of the four retail spaces for development of a sports bar-themed restaurant.

“We don’t want to cater to hundreds and hundreds of people a day,’’ said Amberg. “But it’s one of those things that if you serve lunch and dinner and maybe shut down by 9 or 10 o’clock is what we’re looking for.’’

Last year, Southwest Minnesota Housing Partnership of Slayton had proposed a $3.6 million rehabilitation project that included converting the 30 studio residential units on the second and third floors into 10 workforce apartments and creating three retail business spaces on the main floor.

The project fell through after difficulties arose with the project’s financing plan.

The 86-year-old former hotel was named last year to the National Register of Historic Places.

The building was constructed in 1927 and was the city’s principal commercial hotel from the late 1920s through much of the twentieth century and was one of the city’s chief gathering spots.

State historical officials had said that between 1927 and 1958, the building was a good example of a refined hotel in an out-state urban center, achieving maturity in the early decades of the twentieth century.

Being listed on the National Register means certain federal and state investment tax credits for rehabilitation and other provisions may apply. Listing in the Register does not mean that limitations will be placed on the property by the federal government and the government will not attach restrictive covenants to the property or seek to acquire them.

David Little
David Little covers the Willmar City Council, Willmar Municipal Utilities and other city news.
(320) 235-1150