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.