Albert Lea Inn now Midwestern Hotel

Published 9:30 am Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Freeborn County Recorder Kelly Callahan said Friday the owner of 2301 E. Main St. is still listed as American Bank of St. Paul, which purchased the property for about $1.47 million at the Freeborn County Sheriff’s auction Sept. 25. Tax statements are being sent to AM Property Holdings LLC, which is the company Singh is associated with.

A spokeswoman with the Freeborn County Auditor-Treasurer’s Office also said Friday there is about $115,000 in delinquent property taxes against the property from 2007 and 2008 and about $53,000 in delinquent property taxes from 2009.

It’s been a tough year for the hotel at 2301 E. Main St. in Albert Lea.

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All in one year, its former owners went into foreclosure and later filed bankruptcy, and the hotel known as the Albert Lea Inn closed and was sold at a Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office auction.

What would happen to the first hotel visible to motorists who use Interstate 35’s Exit 12? This past weekend, that place’s luck started to turn around.

After several weeks of work to get the facility back on its feet, the hotel — now dubbed The Midwestern Hotel — reopened to customers under a new ownership.

The business, operated by Minnesota Aviation owner Mike Nevins and his business partner Amarjit Singh, has opened its doors — and its rooms — to travelers.

Nevins said when the hotel opened it would have about 60 rooms available, which is about half of all of the rooms. He noted he and his crews are renovating 20 rooms, and then throughout the rest of the winter and next spring, they will upgrade other parts, including lighting.

Rooms have been gutted, drapes have been dry-cleaned, carpets have been steamed and more than half of the bedding has been thrown out.

“It’s an older property,” Nevins said. “It’s been neglected for many years.”

One wing of the hotel also suffered from severe water damage when the property was closed and those rooms have had to have a lot of work done as well.

Though it’s a large undertaking, Nevins noted that he’s from Albert Lea and wants to make the hotel into a good property.

He got involved with it because many of his students from his aviation business used to stay there. They later had to be moved when the hotel closed.

Nevins said the restaurant inside the facility will open at a later date, and conference rooms are available for interested parties, just without food and liquor for now.

When the restaurant opens, there will be white linens on the table, with food such as steak, seafood — something to please everybody, he said.

At the start the hotel will run on limited staff, but when it’s fully operating there will be between 40 and 45 employees.

Nevins said in just the week that the hotel advertised job openings on its sign, he received almost 200 applications and resumes. He’s hiring all positions except for maintenance.

He said he is in talks with a number of franchises for the hotel, but for now it will operate under the name of The Midwestern Hotel.

Monday at the Albert Lea City Council meeting, Singh that he is working on getting people to explore Albert Lea, which will help fill up the rooms at the hotel.

The partners also hope to promote the Vitality Project and any people who will visit the city to learn more about it.