Hotel to capitalize on St. Paul’s outdoor attractions
The new Western Front Hotel being developed in St. Paul is a symbol of the transformation taking place in the Southwest Virginia town.
Creative Boutique Hotels, MB Contractors and Cornerstone Hospitality broke ground on the $7.3 million, 33-room hotel in June.
“We will be designing the hotel to accommodate eco and environmental tourists, those who enjoy the outdoors,” says Kimberly Christner, president and CEO of Cornerstone Hospitality and a partner in Creative Boutique Hotels, the development group for Western Front. “The town and its citizens are focused and driven in making St. Paul a destination in Southwest Virginia, and it’s happening.”
Many visitors travel to the area to take advantage of Spearhead Trails, an extensive system of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails. They also visit the Clinch River, second only to the Amazon among the most bio-diverse rivers in the world.
“With our ATV-friendly trails we feel that we are now a destination for people to come, stay and play,” says Bob Harrison, chairman of the St. Paul Industrial Development Authority. “We don’t have enough places for these people coming in to town and wanting to stay multiple days.”
In addition to tourists looking for outdoor adventures, the nearby Virginia City Hybrid Energy Center, a Dominion power plant, draws workers to St. Paul when it undergoes maintenance each spring and fall. “We have about 200 people come in,” Harrison says.
The Western Front, which incorporates two historic St. Paul buildings, will have a restaurant and music venue, rooftop dining room and bar, and outdoor entertainment spaces.
To finance the project, Creative Boutique Hotels is using federal historic tax credits as well as federal grants. The company also has received a $250,000 grant from the Virginia Tourism Growth Fund and several low-interest loans.
The hotel follows the development of the Mountain View Lodge, Copperhead Road Rentals, Saint Paul Suites and Cottages, Fat Boy’s BBQ and Sugar Hill Brewing Co. All have opened in St. Paul in the last year.
The Western Front project was a group effort, says Harrison. “There were several people involved.”
One of them is Lou Wallace, co-founder of the nonprofit St. Paul Tomorrow. She had read about the Craddock Terry Hotel in Lynchburg, a former shoe factory that was converted by Cornerstone Hospitality.
“I said. ‘This is what we want to do.’ If you want to be seen as a visionary, you have to dream big,” she says. “We choose to be different and think differently. We want to be a model to other communities.”