Webers to convert Ross Furniture building into luxury hotel

2012-12-29T00:00:00Z 2012-12-29T12:22:25Z Webers to convert Ross Furniture building into luxury hotelBy STEVE CAHALAN | For the La Crosse Tribune La Crosse Tribune

Logistics Health Inc. CEO Don Weber and his wife, Roxanne, plan to convert the downtown Ross Furniture building at 101 State St. into a luxury boutique hotel.

The as-yet-unnamed hotel and its first-floor restaurant are expected to open in 2014, Don Weber said Friday. He guessed that project costs, such as buying the property, restoring the exterior to its original appearance, converting the interior to a hotel and furnishing it, will total more than $15 million.

The Webers bought the building two weeks ago for $1.5 million from Ross Furniture owner Colleen Jankowski.

Jankowski said her furniture store will continue operating there until she moves it to a new location, probably in late 2013. “I’m still leaning toward downtown” for her new location, said Jankowski, who hasn’t made a final site decision.

“To me, it makes a lot of sense,” Jankowski said of the Webers’ plans to open a boutique hotel near Riverside Park. “I think it’ll be a perfect location (for a hotel) and perfect for the downtown.”

The original building was constructed in 1898 as the Joseph B. Funke Candy Co. factory, and an addition to the east end was completed in 1905. The candy factory closed in 1933.

Ross Furniture began in 1944 and has been in its current location since 1962. Jankowski bought the business in 1994.

Weber said he and his wife probably will add a fifth floor to the brick-veneer building. Assuming that is done, the hotel probably will have about 70 guest rooms, including four suites.

“Every room’s a little different,” Weber said of the building. “The hotel will have very unique rooms in it,” as well as a restaurant, lounge and meeting rooms.

“It’s in a very unique location,” Weber said. “It’s got the park right out in front” and restaurants are nearby.

Studies done by consultants for the Webers found there is demand for such a hotel in La Crosse, Weber said.

“We’ll be restoring everything” on the exterior, which will look as it did during the building’s days as a candy factory, Weber said. That includes recreating a wooden water tower that’s no longer atop the building, and creating windows on the building’s north side.

It is one of the last remaining late-19th century manufacturing buildings along the city’s historic commercial riverfront, according to an architectural and engineering analysis done for the project.

“I think it’s a good thing for the area,” Weber said of the planned hotel. “I think it will bring a lot of guests down here. Our consultants have told us there is a need. A lot of times people like something that’s more unique, a little different than just your standard hotel room.”

LHI books many hotel rooms for guests that it brings to La Crosse on business, Weber said. But his planned boutique hotel and its restaurant will be open to the public.

The Webers have built three Riverside Center office buildings in downtown La Crosse for LHI and other tenants and are talking with city officials about the possibility of constructing a fourth.

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(36) Comments

  1. eharbs
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    eharbs - December 04, 2013 11:57 am
    I'm just happy that they are restoring and not tearing down.

    Thank you
  2. rank46
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    rank46 - January 04, 2013 10:32 am
    Personally, I look forward to seeing the renovation of the building. It sounds like it will be elegant and a nice addition to the hospitality industry in La Crosse.
    Report Abuse
    LAXTEA - January 04, 2013 9:49 am
    This post is a bunch of hoo-ha. No one is taking pot-shots at Weber personally. We are just opposed to the city's policies of handing him gifts from the taxpayer's wallet.

    If you want to make more points about how he "improvised" to get these gifts, maybe I will criticize him personally.
    Report Abuse
    LAXTEA - January 04, 2013 9:45 am
    You have absolutely no idea how these LHI TIFs were handled. They lied, and misrepresented many things to get these projects approved and get taxpayer funds. Pull your head out.
    Report Abuse
    LAXTEA - January 04, 2013 9:42 am
    I don't claim to know everything about the Weber's businesses, but I do know their projects have benefited immensely from taxpayer handouts. That is NOT admirable in my opinion.

    As for the City of La Crosse showing "excellent use of resources", that is a joke right? They have NO idea how much we owe, to whom, or for how long. Please pull your head out of the sand Ken.
    Report Abuse
    LAXTEA - January 04, 2013 9:37 am
    ^ LIKE ^
  7. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 04, 2013 12:46 am
    Then stop it! Society has the power to stop all of this. But you won't, because you believe you cant, and most are just plain scared. The people walking all over you and sucking up your tax dollars are human, your fellow man/woman. All of this ends only when everyone wakes up and decides to stand up for themselves and the people who cannot!
  8. Bozoputer
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    Bozoputer - January 03, 2013 6:49 pm
    There is always a hater in every bunch.
  9. David Lee
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    David Lee - January 02, 2013 12:44 am
    To which, I say, SO WHAT. He is still actively bleeding the taxpayer thru
  10. Anonangel
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    Anonangel - January 01, 2013 9:14 pm
    wow, someone drank the coolaid. He is human, subject to make mistakes. No one is perfect, we all have our secrets.
  11. JMatt24
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    JMatt24 - December 31, 2012 9:10 am
    Say what ever you would like about TIF's and the City Council. Much of it is correct. However, leave Mr. Weber alone. He is a respected, dedicated family man. Those of you who mock him or take shots at him do not know him and clearly never met him. He grew up in a very small family farm with little or nothing. He enlisted in the Marine Corps and was Honorably Discharged. He served his country and simply wants to serve his community. His core value is to help where ever he can. What you do not read about are his failures. He had a business once he had to file bankruptcy on. He had other failures in business as well. LHI was not his first rodeo and it certainly was not easy. However, like any good marine, he improvised, adapted and over came. Leave him alone. He doesn't care about the politics or the council. He likes to help people, just like all marines. Semper Fi!
  12. Lorraine
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    Lorraine - December 30, 2012 3:49 pm
    I love the Ross Furniture building, but a restored hotel as described sounds very awesome!
  13. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 30, 2012 2:46 am
    No TIF's, would solve that problem nicely. Why should property owners get raped time and time again by the city and NEVER be given anything back?
  14. aceman
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    aceman - December 29, 2012 11:50 pm
    ok lhi has created jobs but Weber also gets tax credits for all employees in those buildings even the ones that have worked 20 years for a company in la crosse that moves into that building. our council will probably give him riverside park for parking. Yes weber has done great things, but we tax payers have paid for many of them!
  15. Opus
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    Opus - December 29, 2012 7:32 pm
    So, David, what is the solution to that problem?
  16. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 5:07 pm
    Yes your tax's will go up. Where do you think TIF money comes from?
  17. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 5:06 pm
    He does'nt.
  18. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 5:06 pm
    And TIF's Aren't?
  19. Holden Caulfield
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    Holden Caulfield - December 29, 2012 4:31 pm
    Why not convert it into a Walmart ? A Walmart would look so beautiful near the river.
  20. realitycheck
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    realitycheck - December 29, 2012 4:26 pm
    David, it's really easy to do things for the community like the Webers have. You go create 1000 jobs in the area and maybe some bonehead can get on here and say you did not deserve any help from the city.
  21. wind
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    wind - December 29, 2012 3:52 pm
    At times TIF is used appropriately, most other times the developers can afford to do the projects on their own, but are all too happy to extract the welfare. I also enjoy seeing the govt. picking winners and losers. ANYTHING for more tax base.
  22. DingleBerry
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    DingleBerry - December 29, 2012 3:29 pm
    AGREED 100% Fubar!
  23. DingleBerry
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    DingleBerry - December 29, 2012 3:28 pm
    Prob off-site valet to the new parking ramp a few blocks away, and possibly renting a few spaces from the radio station or across the street.
  24. allcav
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    allcav - December 29, 2012 12:57 pm
    Don't be surprised when Weber makes a proposal to the city to use city property for parking. Seventy rooms is pretty small, really, compared to 169 at the Radisson, so they'd have to be expensive rooms. If they are indeed that luxurious, I could foresee some sort of off site valet parking as in done in major cities.
  25. FUBAR
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    FUBAR - December 29, 2012 11:57 am
    Oh for FU&% sakes!!!!!!!!!! This will be for the betterment of the area. Our taxes are not going to go up to fund this hotel. Stop the madness and just be happy that some jobs will be created so those people can pay taxes. Not everything is bad there Lee.
  26. k
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    k - December 29, 2012 10:47 am
    I thinki it is very cool that this building will be restored to its original glory plus some-that being said,where are people going to park? I have no clue-parking just to go in the furniture store has always been an issue-cant park in the park,i dont know-anyone havve any idea?
  27. easy
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    easy - December 29, 2012 10:12 am
    You need a better example, David Lee. Obama's wealth redistribution plan is very out in the open, has never been hidden. He even said it to Joe the Plumber before the first election.
  28. TWehrs
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    TWehrs - December 29, 2012 9:49 am
    Well said, Ken. I, too, am thankful that we have people like the Webers who choose to invest in making this community a better place to live and work. It's ridiculous to say that homeowners are footing the bill. Do you have any idea how much the thousands of people who work at LHI contribute to the local economy. The TIF has been used properly and appropriately, and anyone who thinks differently doesn't understand how an economy works and certainly doesn't know how to ensure that a community thrives. Thank you again to the Webers for thinking outside the box and investing in La Crosse.
  29. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 9:16 am
    The problem with you supporters of killing the homeowner by TIFFING them to death is you just a bunch of hypocrites, I'll bet every one of you has been ranting that Obama has a secret agenda of wealth re-distribution, right? Bottom line is TIF is stealing from the homeowner to finance the rich, and it never comes back to them. Another TIF will be created as soon as they can find a way around the laws that control TIF's.
  30. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 9:08 am
    The problem is the jobs created are for people who only work there, very few live and pay city tax's.
  31. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 9:07 am
    No moron, the question is how much are we going to allow the politicians to bleed the homeowners to finance millionaires?
  32. Ken Riley
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    Ken Riley - December 29, 2012 9:00 am
    Everyone in this community should be grateful to the Weber family for their remarkable and on-going contributions to this community, and the new hotel is yet another example of their vision for La Crosse. Additionally, the City of La Crosse has shown excellent use of resources by allocating dollars to ensure that blighted areas, and locations ripe for development are encouraged to do so by brilliant visionaries such as the Weber family. Communities that invest in themselves through the use of TIF dollars are communities that grow and attract more businesses and employ more people. I am proud to live in a community where amazing development is happening every day; the new hotel is just another gem in the crown that is La Crosse, Wisconsin.
  33. Opus
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    Opus - December 29, 2012 9:00 am
    Agreed, taxedout.
  34. taxedout
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    taxedout - December 29, 2012 7:02 am
    A bigger question is what has David Lee or anyone else done to create jobs, make the river front beautiful and bring business to La Crosse. Your tax contributions wouldn't provide the toilet paper for one of the buildings.
  35. LaCrosseTaxPayer
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    LaCrosseTaxPayer - December 29, 2012 4:38 am
    “The Webers have built three Riverside Center office buildings in downtown La Crosse for LHI and other tenants and are talking with city officials about the possibility of constructing a fourth.” It should be rephrased as;

    The Webers have built three Riverside Center office buildings in downtown La Crosse with the tax-payers money for LHI and other tenants and are talking with city officials about the possibility of constructing a fourth for even more corporate welfare tax dollars paid by the tax-payers!!

    As David Lee stated What will this cost the tax-payers with all of webers buddies that are on the clowncil!!!
  36. David Lee
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    David Lee - December 29, 2012 2:05 am
    And the majic question is, how much taxpayer money is going into the project?
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