Boutique hotel and convention center coming to Amana Colonies - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Boutique hotel and convention center coming to Amana Colonies

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One historic community hopes a large renovation project will bring in more visitors.

According to the Amana Society, the Amana Colonies draw in more than 750,000 visitors. Soon, the colonies will have its first full-size hotel through a renovation project that comes in one of the colonies most historic buildings, the Amana Woolen Mill.

Woven into the Amana history is a rich past of woolworking. In the German colonies, the Woolen Mill has been in operation for more than 160 years.

"It is the means by which the Amana people were able to survive and live," John Peterson, Amana Society President and CEO, said.

With its iconic smokestack, the mill was built in 1857. It has since downsized its operations which has left a lot of leftover space on its eight acres of property. It's space that has started to show signs of deterioration.

"We've been trying to find something to preserve these buildings again to represent the history of the Amana," said Peterson.

Peterson said they've been working on that for seven years now. Now, they're moving forward with a plan to renovate the buildings into a 65-room boutique hotel and convention center that can host weddings and business meetings.

"We hope it will bring new visitors, new business. We have never in Amana proper had a hotel with meeting rooms of the size that would accommodate business meetings. We can do that once this hotel is completed," he said.

The wool room will stay in the first floor of the mill, where it currently operates. The plan calls for the convention center to be on the second floor of the mill. The building addition put up in 1923 is where the hotel will be.

"The entire interior will be refurbished, but you'll see remnants of what parts of the building looked like in the old days," Peterson said.

Guests can expect to see touches of the Woolen Mill in the rooms, as well. Peterson said each room will feature blankets made from the mill.  The renovation project also calls for a restaurant in the hotel and potential retail spaces.

According to Peterson, they hope to start the renovation this summer and have confidence that the hotel and restaurant will be finished in 2020.

Hobart Historic Restoration company is tasked with doing the renovations. The Amana Society has brought on IDM to manage the hotel, the same company that manages the Hotel Julien Dubuque.

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