The rebound in the hotel market may have finally reached out to Farmington, where a proposal for the city’s first brand-name hotel is in the works.
Cobblestone Hotels of Neenah, Wis., develops small, midmarket hotels in communities like Farmington, whose size tends to keep them off the radar of big hotel chains. The company recently opened its first Minnesota hotel, in Crookston, and has proposed another in Cokato.
Cobblestone, which did not respond to interview requests, has met with Farmington officials about its interest in building a hotel there and has its eye on land on the western side of town just off County Road 50, the main artery from Interstate 35. Mayor Todd Larson said the developer should begin meeting soon with potential investors in the $2.8 million project.
“When they’re ready to start, they’ll bring a concept plan to us, and it will begin moving through the normal planning process,” Larson said. An independent market study funded by the city and the developer says the hotel could be open in 2015.
Farmington’s only current lodging alternative is a no-frills, strip-style motel built in 1950. The other closest options are five miles away in Lakeville and eight miles away in Apple Valley. The study says Farmington could support a 36-room hotel with a meeting room for special events, indoor pool, exercise room and business center. There would be no restaurant, but it would have a breakfast room and possibly a wine and beer bar.
The study, by Hospitality Consulting Group of Excelsior, notes several reasons a small hotel could work in Farmington. The city is home to the Dakota County Fair, which typically draws about 125,000 visitors in August. It’s close to attractions including the Minnesota Zoo and Buck Hill and to Northfield, where Carleton and St. Olaf colleges draw significant numbers of out-of-town visitors.
Larson said that in addition to a hotel, the market study could help the city attract other economic development.
“I think it will be a good thing to have it in the hands of commercial brokers out there,” he said.