Mille Lacs hotel purchases reflect diversification push

11 March 2013

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe will announce the purchase of two major hotels in St. Paul at a press conference tomorrow (March 11) at 9:30 a.m. at the Crowne Plaza St. Paul Riverfront Hotel. The hotels, the 470-room Crowne Plaza on Kellogg Boulevard, and the 250-room Doubletree Hilton in the heart of downtown St. Paul, represent nearly half of St. Paul’s current lodging inventory.

The acquisitions are the first in a series of planned investments by the Mille Lacs Band Corporate Commission as part of the economic development vision articulated by Chief Executive Melanie Benjamin in her 2013 State of the Band address.

 Benjamin has emphasized the importance of diversifying into non-gaming projects that will help move the Band toward greater economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance.

Mille Lacs Commissioner of Corporate Affairs Joseph Nayquonabe, Jr. will anchor the press conference, discussing the business goals of the venture, planned improvements for the hotels, as well as what the Band’s ownership will mean for the City of St. Paul.

St. Paul Chamber President Matt Kramer told KARE-11 News on March 8 that the Band’s acquisition of the hotels is “a fantastic thing for St. Paul.” He cited the Band’s twenty years of experience in the hospitality industry, and its commitment to refurbishing the properties to maximize their value as cornerstones of the core downtown’

Other dignitaries scheduled to attend the press conference include Chief Executive Benjamin, Ben Graves of Graves Hospitality, Inc., Deputy St. Paul Mayor Paul Williams; and Matt Kramer, President of the St. Paul Area Chamber of Commerce.