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Spicer hotel nears completion with mid-May opening expected

SPICER -- Calling it more of a resort than a hotel, managers say the Hampton Inn Spicer Green Lake is on the construction homestretch and will open in mid-May -- right before the rush of the tourist season.

Carpeting
Carolyn Lange / Tribune Workers carry carpeting Thursday inside the new Hampton Inn Spicer Green Lake. The resort hotel is set to open in mid-May.

SPICER - Calling it more of a resort than a hotel, managers say the Hampton Inn Spicer Green Lake is on the construction homestretch and will open in mid-May - right before the rush of the tourist season.

"We have to hit the ground running," said Dave Feist, from TPI Hospitality, of Willmar. "When we open that door, it's summer. We have to be ready, and we're going to be."

Located on state Highway 23 in Spicer - across the street from the popular Green Lake - the three-story, 51-room hotel is built on the site of a former Lutheran church that had most recently housed several businesses as the Bell Tower Plaza.

The previous structure was demolished in June.

Construction of the hotel has been taking place since then and is on schedule to be completed next month, said Feist, who had high praise for the general contractor, Chester Contracting Inc. of Willmar, as well as the subcontractors.

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The project, estimated at $6 million, was built with the help of $500,000 in up-front tax increment financing from the city of Spicer.

The project could generate about $800,000 in tax revenues to offset street improvements in the TIF district, said City Administrator Leslie Valiant.

Tax increment financing does not provide any reduction in taxes. The increase in property taxes created by the improvements is redirected to pay for development expenses, in this case to pay back bonds the city of Spicer issued for the hotel project and street improvements.

In a buzz of activity last week, construction workers were installing carpet, tiling the swimming pool floor and moving in furniture - including putting up artwork in each room created by two local individuals.

Feist said the size and style of hotel is unique. "It's a hometown Hampton and it has that hometown feel to it."

The hotel will include a fitness center, pool, a dining area where a free breakfast will be served each day, a computer area with Wi-Fi and a printer and an outdoor patio with a gas fireplace.

But the hotel will be more than just a place for guests to "rest their head and eat breakfast," said Nancy Larson, manager of the hotel.

"We're really trying to focus our attention and get guests excited for more of a resort feel," she said. "This is about getting out and exploring the entire area."

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They plan to have bicycles and pontoons for guests to rent and are forging partnerships with area businesses to augment the experience of guests - and benefit those businesses as well.

"It's not just a one-day stay-over, but more of a coming with your family, staying a week and enjoying all that the lake has to offer and what the hotel has to offer, but also looking at local businesses that can be promoted along with that," Larson said.

She said that kind of synergy will "generate excitement about the community" and attract more tourists to the area to enhance Spicer's role as a "destination center" that will benefit everyone who lives in the area.

Spicer Mayor Denny Baker said the new hotel will be "very advantageous for the whole community."

The hotel will have 12 to 15 employees.

Larson said they received "hundreds" of applications and have put together a team of employees who live in the community and want to work here.

"That's buy-in. That's skin in the game. They want to be a part of it," Larson said.

Reservations for mid-June can be booked now through the hotel's online reservation system, spicergreenlakeresort.com. Earlier dates can be booked by calling 320-796-3000 and leaving a message. The room rate will be around $140 a night.

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"We've fielded a ton of inquiries. We've been quite busy," he said.

A grand opening will be held this fall.

Related Topics: SPICER
Carolyn Lange is a features writer at the West Central Tribune. She can be reached at clange@wctrib.com or 320-894-9750
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