Gundersen hotel touted as service for patients, boost for neighborhood

Gundersen hotel touted as service for patients, boost for neighborhood

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The proposed Gundersen Hotel and Suites will improve the health and well-being of patients and their families, as well as bolster the neighborhood on La Crosse’s South Side, a Gundersen Health System official says.

The 65-bed hotel, which could begin rising soon adjacent to Gundersen’s main campus, reflects hospital leaders’ longtime commitment to help spur redevelopment of the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood surrounding the hospital, said Mark Platt, Gundersen’s senior vice president of business services.

“The bottom line is it will be a whole different experience” in comfort and convenience for patients and their families, as well as filling a void for hotel rooms in that part of the city, Platt said in an interview Tuesday.

The hotel is intended not only for those who travel great distances for outpatient care and need to stay overnight but also for relatives and friends of inpatients, he said.

Gundersen owns the land, now a parking lot north of its Founders Building, on which the hotel will be built, but Premier Properties will own the site and the hotel upon completion, Platt said.

The parking lot tentatively will close in late April or early May for site preparation, and construction could begin as early as summer, pending the city’s final approval of the plans.

Acknowledging that La Crosse has experienced a hotel building boom in the downtown area, Platt said Gundersen Hotel and Suites will be closer “instead of 10 to 15 minutes away, which sometimes is just too long.”

The hotel, which will feature 16 extended-stay rooms among its 65, probably will have a workout facility as well, he said.

It will include a swimming pool, Platt said, adding, “Families will be staying in that hotel, and it will be the right pool for the population.”

The hotel will have amenities typical of a hotel, and it will not be used for medical purposes, he said.

“It will not compete with other hotels,” he said, noting that Gundersen’s agreement with Premier Properties includes clauses to own the hotel should the deal go south.

“We want the hotelier to be successful,” he said. “We need each other.”

Premier Properties’ managing partner Spencer Schram, who estimated that the hotel will cost about $8 million, said, “Our position is that Gundersen is a unique opportunity to provide a service to patients and the neighborhood.

“I’ve learned that it’s been a goal for a long time to bring a quality hotel to that area,” Schram said in a phone interview.

A 2006 development agreement between Gundersen and the city, as well as an amended pact in 2012, listed obtaining a hotel in the Powell-Poage-Hamilton Neighborhood as a priority.

Premier Properties, headquartered in Sikeston, Mo., owns four other hotels, including the Holiday Inn Express in Onalaska, which Schram said the company bought in 2010.

Rates will be competitive with other chains, such as Hampton Inns and Holiday Inns, he said.

“We have had a very good experience” at the Onalaska location, Schram said.

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