New hotel opens in Lancaster

LANCASTER, Wis. — A new hotel in Lancaster is open for business, marking the culmination of years of research and planning.

The Sleep Inn & Suites, located at 1600 S. Madison St., features 52 rooms, a saltwater swimming pool, golf course views and a business and conference center — all amenities that investors said fills a longstanding gap in local accommodations.

“Our community never really had a nice place, and so often, events had to be held elsewhere,” said Bruce Fritz, a lead investor. “We’re a big enough community that we should have a nice place that people can come to.”

With a staff of about 20, the hotel opened to guests on Friday and already is seeing bookings well into the months ahead, especially from wedding parties, according to General Manager Ken Stahl.

Groundbreaking on the $6 million project occurred last summer.

In addition to constructing the hotel, crews extended sanitary sewer lines, added a water retention basin and installed a street access that the city will extend into a future housing development.

The hotel is owned by a group of about 10 investors, who purchased the land from the city for $1. The city will reimburse them up to $943,250 for infrastructure improvements on the hotel property and an abutting one-acre parcel to its northwest.

The dollars will come from funds generated by property taxes from the new hotel. The city will not begin making payments until 2023, after the hotel property is assessed, said City Administrator David Carlson.

Brad Bierman, of Epic Construction, served as the contractor and said that work began before the acquisition and delivery of building supplies was disrupted by the pandemic. Prices also have dramatically increased.

“If we had taken off on this project even three to four months later, it would have been a completely different conversation,” he said.

The developers received a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. to offset expected revenue losses due to a decline in travel during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Fritz does not anticipate a long-term dip in occupancy.

“For the most part … we’re back to being business as usual,” he said. “I think there is going to be plenty of pent-up demand.”

In addition to travelers seeking a traditional overnight stay, Fritz also anticipates use from local companies, who otherwise would direct employees to utilize lodging in Platteville or Dubuque.

“It’s a nice piece of infrastructure to have,” said Ron Brisbois, executive director of the Grant County Economic Development Corp.

The hotel’s 60-foot pool also will be open to the public for a small fee and the entire amenity and an adjoining party room can be rented for special events.

Fritz declined to provide details, but the investment group already is contemplating its next project. For now, he’s just ecstatic about the current one.

“It took a whole community to do it,” he said.