Boutique Hotel Proposed in Downtown Whitefish

Averill Hospitality group plans development on Central Avenue and First Street; firm donates a half-million dollars to Whitefish Housing Authority

By Tristan Scott
An architectural rendering depicts a proposed boutique hotel at 38 Central Ave. in downtown Whitefish. Courtesy image

The hospitality outfit whose properties include The Lodge at Whitefish Lake and The Firebrand Hotel is proposing a new boutique hotel at the corner of Central Avenue and First Street in Whitefish’s downtown core, on a prominent corner lot adjacent to the Craggy Range Restaurant, where development plans have stalled for years.

For more than a decade, the city of Whitefish has envisioned a downtown boutique hotel at 38 Central Ave. in the heart of downtown Whitefish. Averill Hospitality seeks to fulfill that vision with the proposal of a 40-room hotel, which will include first-floor dining, retail space, a rooftop deck serving food and beverages, and a basement parking structure with hydraulic stacking technology for maximizing space. The hotel is proposed to be constructed in 2022 and open in 2023. 

In addition to its new development proposal, Averill Hospitality announced it plans to donate $500,000 to the Whitefish Housing Authority “to contribute to the costs of a workforce housing project that is slated to create up to 26 downtown workforce-housing spaces,” according to a news release from the group.

“One of our company’s fundamental goals is to be a steward and support our community in a meaningful way,” Brian Averill said in a statement. “This commitment helps guide our business decisions, operational goals, and philanthropy. Having grown up here, I know how critical this need is for our local residents in our community.”

In addition to the initial donation, Averill Hospitality will establish the collection of an optional 1% philanthropic gift from hotel guests on lodging and food revenues, to also be donated to the Whitefish workforce housing projects for a period of five years. 

The company has a similar program at The Lodge, where funds from guests are donated to the Whitefish Lake Institute, a nonprofit organization committed to science, education, and aquatic resource initiatives to protect and improve Whitefish Lake and Whitefish area water resources.

The project also completes a retail loop identified in the 2006 downtown master plan by filling in the vacancy at 38 Central Avenue and East First Street with sidewalk shops and dining.

“With the project’s proximity to the shops and restaurants in downtown Whitefish, guests will walk to nearby destinations rather than driving,” according to the news release. “The site will provide dedicated bicycle parking, on-site spaces for employee parking, an off-site parking lease for any parking overflow as needed, as well as a shuttle service for employees from off-site locations.”

The Whitefish Planning Board will take the project under consideration at its Sept. 16 meeting.

Responding to ongoing concerns about parking, Averill Hospitality says it intends to build hydraulic parking stackers in the underground parking garage, nearly doubling the dedicated 42 on-site parking spaces. 

“Modern innovation will be a hallmark of this project as we balance community needs, our local economy, and livability for working families and guests of our mountain town,” Averill stated in the release.

According to proposed design specifications, windows along East First Street will be covered with awnings to allow breaks in the architecture while also providing a shelter along the streetscape and maintaining Whitefish’s downtown identity. Covered sidewalks and balconies, as well as restaurant seating that embraces the sidewalk with classic benches, will naturally fit into the location. A rooftop deck, meanwhile, would be available to patrons of the hotel as well as the public, the release states.

 “We are excited at the prospect of supporting workforce housing for the sustainability of the Whitefish community while we place a final puzzle piece into the downtown master plan to enhance the year-round economy and walkability for Whitefish visitors,” said Averill.

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