Lodge owners propose boutique hotel

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The owners of The Lodge at Whitefish Lake want to build a boutique hotel in downtown Whitefish at the corner of Third Street and Central Avenue where a city parking lot now is located.

The city-owned property is across the street from First Presbyterian Church.

Brian Averill, who handles resort operations and expansion for The Lodge, wrote a letter to the Whitefish City Council last week formally expressing his family’s interest in developing a small downtown hotel.

Brian and his brother Sean operate The Lodge at Whitefish Lake, the only hotel on Whitefish Lake. Their father, Dan Averill, started the first phase of The Lodge in 1982 and also was involved when the current lodge complex was completed in 2005. Since then The Lodge has expanded on the east side of Wisconsin Avenue and the facilities are connected with a sky bridge.

“As Montana’s only four-diamond resort, we believe that we are uniquely positioned to produce a quality boutique hotel,” Averill said in the letter. “The infrastructure of The Lodge at Whitefish Lake allows for synergies and economies of scale that will benefit the new property.”

Averill asked the council to adopt a resolution forming a subcommittee that could work with his family to draft a preliminary development agreement for council approval.

“That agreement would give us exclusive rights to develop plans and bring a project to the council for approval of a detailed development agreement within a specified period of time,” he wrote.

Averill’s request is on the council’s agenda for possible discussion at Monday’s meeting.

Adding a boutique hotel to the downtown area was an element of the Whitefish downtown master plan adopted in 2006.

In 2007 International Capital Partners announced plans for a boutique hotel with 40 to 60 rooms on four lots north of Craggy Range restaurant on Central Avenue, but those plans never materialized.

Some elements of the downtown master plan, such as the reconstruction and improvements to Central Avenue, already have been accomplished. A parking complex was proposed in the plan, and that’s now being considered.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or by email at lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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