December 16, 2018 11:11 AM
(ABC 6 News) -- The Austin Port Authority is set to consider selling a 1.6-acre parcel near the former Oak Park Mall to a Wisconsin-based hotel developer.
Port Authority Executive Director Craig Clark said Cobblestone Hotels is offering $250,000 for the site, located directly behind the former Hy-Vee grocery store and the Prairie Sky Apartments. The proposal calls for selling the property outright, meaning the developer could develop it as they see fit.
"It's not a done deal," Clark said. "We're moving toward closing but it's nice to get an offer and see interest in that area and further redevelopment for our community."
Brian Wogernese, the CEO of WHG Companies, LLC, which would help bring the hotel to life, said his company has been looking for a suitable site in Austin for years, but at first they prioritized finding a site downtown. When a site didn't materialize, the project was put on the back burner.
"We kind of put it on the shelf for a little while and then (this site) just kind of popped up," he said. "We're doing an expansion into Minnesota, we just opened one (hotel) in Hutchinson this year."
Wogernese said the company would like to build a 66-room, three-story hotel on the site, with construction possibly beginning as soon as May 2019.
As part of the company's expansion, it acquired the Centerstone Inns and Suites franchise, including a hotel on 6th Street SW in Rochester, earlier this year.
The Austin site is one of the last remaining parcels the port authority owns from the Oak Park Mall deal after Verona, Wisconsin-based Slaby and Associates took over the adjacent parcels containing the former grocery store in the summer. Plans call for a Marshall's clothing store, discount retailer Five Below and Pet Supplies Plus, as well as up to two additional tenants to fill that building.
The investments in the retail corridor along 18th Avenue NW are an indicator to Clark that businesses are watching Austin closely as a place to set up shop.
"Good things are happening in Austin and it's a great time to see some of those improvements moving forward," he said.
The port authority will consider the sale at their Dec. 27 meeting.
Updated: December 16, 2018 11:11 AM
Created: December 15, 2018 03:13 PM
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