Spring 2002 opening planned for 63-room facility near Kenai River

New hotel going up in Soldotna

Posted: Thursday, October 05, 2000

A Seattle-based firm plans to begin construction next summer of a 63-room hotel by the Kenai River in Soldotna.

The new Aspen Hotel, off the Sterling Highway behind Johnson Tire, will open in spring 2002, said George Swift, owner, president and chief executive of Western Steel in Seattle.

"We're a hotel developer. We build, own and operate hotels," he said. "We're looking forward to coming to your city. We're very happy to be coming to that area and to be investing $3 million in the community."

Western Steel has built more than 40 hotels in about 10 states, he said. It now owns and operates 12 hotels in Colorado, Montana, Washington and Alaska and employs about 150 people. It has done construction in Alaska since 1984.

In June, Western Steel opened the 94-room Aspen Hotel in Juneau. It now is building a 97-room Aspen Hotel in Fairbanks. Both cost about $5 million. Western Steel owns the Guesthouse Inn in Valdez. It built and sold the Clarion Suites and Hawthorn Suites in downtown Anchorage.

Swift said his company considered sites in Kenai and Soldotna for the new central peninsula hotel and finally settled on Soldotna. The new 30,000-square-foot Aspen Hotel in Soldotna will cost about $3 million to build, and Western Steel will do the work. When it is done, it will employ about 18 people.

The hotel will feature a small indoor pool and exercise room, a 1,200-square-foot conference room, a business room with a computer where guests can access the Internet, a voice-mail phone system and rooms with wet-bar suites. It will cater to business travelers, vacationers and the local market, Swift said.

"It's a mid-level hotel," he said.

Dick Bower, building official for the city of Soldotna, said the city has approved a site plan, and Western Steel can break ground any time. However, it must submit plans and obtain a city building permit before doing any real construction work.

"Their next step is to get water and sewer permits and get the building permit process started," he said.

The site plan shows access to the hotel from Binkley Circle, he said. A state-owned parcel lies between the hotel site and the river.

"They've got views of the river," Swift said.

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