Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan

Winona State University's Newspaper since 1919

The Winonan


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The Cost of Either Ruining or Refining Winona: $1

Lilia Barrett
This hotel, along with room for a parking lot, will encompass the area of Levee Park. The property value of the parking lot is said to be $545,000, but was sold for $1 to Mike Rivers, the owner of many of the hotels located in Winona.

A new hotel is being brought to the City of Winona. The design plan for this hotel is a five-story hotel and apartment complex in downtown Winona with a built-in restaurant and event space. This hotel, along with room for a parking lot, will encompass the area of Levee Park. The property value of the parking lot is said to be $545,000, but was sold for $1 to Mike Rivers, the owner of many of the hotels located in Winona including some that are home to River City grill as well as Brewski’s. This hotel is being brought to Winona in hopes of bringing more visitors to local businesses.

A fourth-year student at Winona State University, who prefers to remain anonymous, has fallen in love with the Winona community and wants to embrace the hotel’s potential, but is upset with some of the unfortunate possibilities for the future.

“I’m worried this plan for a hotel will turn into a concrete monstrosity that could potentially take away the charm of Levee Park along with the rest of the downtown area. I fear that this project will bankrupt our town. Also, it is taking money from taxpayers as well, since this hotel is projected to cost around $5 million dollars” Source A said. “Instead of spending money on a hotel, I feel like it would be more important to put money toward a rehabilitation center or affordable housing.”

This entire hotel project questions whether it will add or take away from the charm and community of Winona. Town hall meetings have been taking place for months now, gathering members of the community together to discuss this huge project.

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According to Gabriel Hathaway, a well-known reporter for the Winona Post, this project will have around 75 hotel rooms and around 30 apartments.

“As part of this project, the former Jefferson’s Pub and Grill building across Center Street will be renovated for use as a restaurant and event space,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway has covered the topic for the Winona Post and has described that the city of Winona has already approved another subsidy in the form of tax increment financing, or TIF. According to his article, he describes that to pay for a new development, TIF takes advantage of new property value that the developments bring within the TIF district.

“The city approved a $4.9 million TIF agreement over 26 years for 60 Main. City officials noted that some of the TIF proceeds would be used to reimburse the city’s $700,000 contribution and the sale of the land,” Hathaway said. “Further, the city is seeking state funding to remove all but one active rail line from the rail yard abutting the 60 Main site. This reclaimed land will be used primarily for parking as part of the project.”

It is important to understand the possible setbacks of this huge project which includes using taxpayer money to construct a site in the middle of downtown. Mike Rivers, the owner of many hotels in Winona, bought this land for $1. The question is why.

Elizabeth and Ronald Johnson, a married couple who have been living in Winona for over fifty years, share their perspective on the new hotel being brought into town.

“It is hard to be hopeful of the future of this city when the $5 million dollars being put toward this project could have gone to better things like cleaning up the streets or affordable housing,” Elizabeth Johnson said. “We are anxious to see how this hotel turns out, and I am worried there will not be enough space for parking.”

They too, keep wondering why the project is occurring in the first place. Parking is another valid concern for this project. Allegedly, there will not be enough space for parking as there is already a huge struggle to find parking in the downtown area. Citizens often find themselves parking on the streets, and often it is blocks away from their destination.

There is hope that this project will bring in money for businesses as well as allowing for a better and closer place to stay for Winona residents, rather than staying in the hotel on the outskirts of town. But a huge question for this hotel is will there ever be full occupancy?

Members of the town, like the Johnsons, fear there are not enough times in the year when citizens come together in order to fill occupancy in the hotel. Of course, citizens of Winona do come together to celebrate the community with events like the Mid-West Music Fest, Steamboat Days, and Parents Weekend for the University. Gabriel Hathaway, from the Winona Post, speaks more about the worry about parking regarding this hotel project.

“With the new developments, 126 public parking stalls will be lost downtown. In preparation for 60 Main, the Winona Port Authority acquired HBC properties abutting Main Street and created a paved public parking lot with 29 stalls at 58 Johnson Street,” Hathaway said.

“Additionally, while most of the parking developed as part of the 60 Main project will be private, there will be a row of roughly 30 public parking stalls created outside the Jefferson’s building and Island City Brewing Company from Center to Lafayette streets in the reclaimed rail yard area. These developments total roughly 59 new public parking stalls. Compared to the 126 stalls the city is losing, it is a net loss of 67 stalls.”

This project for a new hotel is hoping to bring more residents to Winona, ultimately bringing more business to local small businesses working to thrive in the downtown area. Some residents are hopeful that this project will bring the community together, while some are distraught, saying this hotel will be a disaster for the city of Winona.

Residents of Winona are welcome to learn more about this project by attending the city council meeting on February 12th at 4:30 in the afternoon. Still, questions revolving around parking, occupancy in the hotel, as well as the loss of money are up in the air for debate.

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About the Contributor
Lilia Barrett
Lilia Barrett, News Reporter
Lilia Barrett is a Photographer and News Reporter for The Winonan and started in Spring 2024. Barrett is a first year at Winona State University majoring in Nursing and minoring in Child Advocacy Studies. In addition to working for the Winonan, Barrett is also involved in various clubs throughout campus and enjoys volunteering at nearby food shelves in Winona.  Outside of school, Barrett is a Water Safety Instructor (WSI) where she teaches children, ages 1-14, how to swim. Her favorite hobby is to go on walks with friends around cities, parks, lakes, et cetera. Barrett enjoys road trips with family, her favorite being a trip to Colorado Springs a few summers ago. 

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    DJT 2024Feb 8, 2024 at 7:30 am

    I can’t wait to see the cluster #### when steamboat days comes around guess they will move it back down by the lake like years before .and why would you sell land worth over a half million dollars for 1.00 that is so stupid that money could be used for many other projects.