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Launched in 2014 by journalist Sean Baker, Med City Beat is an independent news source covering government, business and culture in Rochester, Minnesota.

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Kahler to undergo $30 million in renovations

Kahler to undergo $30 million in renovations

The Kahler Hotel building — a Rochester landmark for nearly a century — will undergo a $30 million makeover to restore the structure to its “original prominence,” the hotel’s parent company announced Thursday.

The project will include “sweeping changes” to both the Kahler Grand Hotel and its upscale accommodations, The Towers, in an effort to bring the historic structure “back to life,” according to the announcement from Kahler Hospitality Group, which owns and operates the hotels.

The renovations will include converting 192 economy rooms into 130 “larger and more contemporary style” rooms. The company said the move will also increase the number of ADA accommodations for guests. On the top floors, the 44 guest rooms and suites that make up the Towers — marketed as Rochester’s only 5-star hotel — will be “modernized and updated with deluxe finishes to enhance the exclusive lounge experience.”

The project is set to begin in December and will be broken up into phases, according to Matt Elliot, the marketing manager for Kahler Hospitality Group. To avoid any major disturbances, Elliot said the heavier construction work will be done during times of lower occupancy. Both hotels will remain open throughout the process.

“Our number one goal throughout will be to ensure that we do not disturb our guests with this renovation work,” said Elliot.

Elliot added that the project will be the most expansive renovation in the history of the downtown building, which first went up in 1921.

“A major renovation to restore the property to its former prominence is long overdue and the timing was right for us to be able to move forward with a project of this magnitude,” said Elliot, noting that the ownership group plans to pay for the project entirely with private funds.

 Rendering shows what a typical guest room will look like following the renovation project.

Rendering shows what a typical guest room will look like following the renovation project.

The announcement from Kahler Hospitality Group — which purchased the property in 2013 for $230 million as part of deal that also included the nearby Marriott hotel — comes amid a surge in new hotel investment downtown.

A number of luxury hotels are either under construction or in the planning stages. They include a 264-room Hilton that is expected to be open next spring, a former Holiday Inn property that is undergoing a $40 million renovation (it will be re-branded Hotel Indigo), and a new “premiere hotel” that will be built directly on top of Mayo Clinic’s Gonda Building.

In a statement, Kahler Hospitality Group Chairman Javon Bea said he shared plans for the Kahler’s renovation with Mayo in 2017. And even with the additional competition, he remained optimistic that Mayo’s expansion plans will only grow the pie. “We are even more excited with Mayo’s recently announced plans to make a larger draw of patients,” he said.

The Kahler is one of Rochester’s most iconic buildings. Over the years, it has hosted presidents and foreign dignitaries, from Lyndon Johnson to King Hussein of Jordan. For a period of time, it was also used for hospital services, including five floors of operating rooms and laboratories.

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