He says AmericInn and Cobblestone Hotel could not bear Crookston Inn & Convention Center reopening
Mike Jacobson of Crookston Hospitality Group, owners of the AmericInn Hotel in Crookston, told the Times in a phone call Wednesday morning he does not want to see the Crookston Inn & Convention Center reopen because it’s too much for the other hotels to bear. Jacobson, who is of no relation to Crookston Inn owner Todd Jacobson, said he is directing his letter to the editor to anyone who might be going in to purchase the Crookston Inn as he doesn’t want to see another person “lose everything they’ve earned.”
Jacobson’s letter to the editor was addressed specifically to the Cobblestone Hotel & Suites ownership group, Crookston Chamber of Commerce, Crookston Housing & Economic Development Authority’s Executive Director Craig Hoiseth, and “local lenders.” Reached by the Times for his reaction to the letter, Hoiseth said, “We support all Crookston businesses.”
During Wednesday’s phone call with the Times, Jacobson referred to the Crookston Inn’s December 2019 closing and rumors that it might reopen for sale saying “if you open them up it will happen again,” hinting at financial struggles.
“It would be good if they (interested parties) talk to us,” he suggested. “It will be a rough ride (if they reopen) and we (the AmericInn) will become competitively aggressive.”
“It’s a free market and the whole city is pushing them to open; Who’s going to foot the bill?” Jacobson wondered. “The city already gave them (Crookston Inn) money they weren’t paying back and then weren’t paying lodging tax. If everybody wants it fair, we didn’t take $140,000 and Cobblestone didn’t and Golf Terrace didn’t.”
“Don’t falsely support a business,” he added. “It either stands on its own or it doesn’t. It’s already proven it doesn’t sustain itself. There are some events that we can all support annually and have enough hotel rooms for, but to have that (Crookston Inn) open year-round and choke the other hotels that are barely surviving just for that one event that’s like a blip on the screen for all the hotels around…”
Jacobson said he feels bad for Todd Jacobson and that “he’s a nice guy” that “brought the hotel up nice”, but the market wouldn’t support it. He went on to tell the Times that when the Cobblestone was built the money spent annually on local hotel rooms was about $2.1 million and now it’s at $1.8 million for all three, AmericInn, Cobblestone and Crookston Inn.
“A lot of things brought the market down,” he continued. “You need $1 million for each hotel for it to survive, studies have shown. Businesses bring in the rooms, local businesses that bring in people bring in the rooms.”
“If you’re not in business you don’t understand how hard it is to keep it open,” Jacobson added. “The thing that’s frustrating is that we warned everybody. Some people say we make a ton of money and we don’t want another hotel. There’s not enough room in town and there are other ways to get a wedding and venue place. If you have someone that’s committed (to buying a hotel) they can buy ours, they could buy both.”
“We can barely pay the bills when all three are open,” he continued. “We just want people to realize if we’re going to have three hotels in town they’re going to put us out of business. We’re not looking to sell, but if they’re so excited to do it then they can buy ours. We keep our place up nice even though, when you’re barely surviving, it’s hard to keep the place up.”
Jacobson also eluded to the empty Dollar Tree store space saying it has over 8,000 feet that could easily be converted to a wedding venue.
“Even we would donate land and put money into someone wanting a wedding venue,” he suggested. “We would like that 3-percent (lodging) tax from revenue spent to help support a wedding venue. You could have catering services from all four local catering companies so they have a chance to make money and brides have other options for food.”
“I mean, the pipeline could come through and the hotels could be busy for two years, but as soon as it’s done it will start to spiral again,” Jacobson continued. “There are times when you just don’t make any money and I’m not trying to be arrogant. I’ve seen some comments online, but whoever gets into that hotel will not make it unless the city gives them money to survive.”