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New owner remodels, set to reopen North Main motel

Henry Bhakta, left, stands with one of several people helping make the motel at 708 N. Main St. ready for guests, Rocky Bhakta. The sign they're holding shows the businesses' new logo and what the big street sign will look like. <i>Debbie Griffin photos</i>1 / 2
The motel at 708 N. Main St. has been closed since August of 2011 but re-opens soon.2 / 2

Recent buyer of the 18-room motel at 708 N. Main St., Henry Bhakta, said about the remodel and reopening of the business, "We're targeting March 1, and we're pretty close to it."

He and his wife co-own a few motels in the Twin Cities and bought the River Falls property from a bank Dec. 21. They've been working since then on a major makeover of the motel, planning to reopen it as the Valu Stay Inn & Suites.

Bhakta said he and a crew of helpers have filled a big industrial dumpster several times as they clean out old items including carpet, shabby furniture -- and a lot of wallpaper.

The new owner says the motel had wallpaper throughout all of its rooms and bathrooms. He nods in agreement that the wall covering is hard to remove but reveals that a water-filled spray bottle or a heated tool speeds the removal.

The redone walls are now textured and painted with artwork hung on them. All the rooms will have new amenities including a hair dryer, iron, ironing board and coffee maker.

He said, "All the rooms will have a mini fridge and a microwave."

Bhakta is waiting on new drapes and installing new accessories such as towel racks, some furniture and wall-mount brackets for the 42-inch flat-panel TVs that will be in each room. He confirms that the building is structurally sound and all the work has been cosmetic.

Once the weather is warm enough, Bhakta said he'll power-wash the building's siding and paint the exterior wood. The big, high sign on Main Street will soon look something like the sign he's holding in the photo -- a new logo for his businesses.

The local property features four suites with king-sized beds and a couch that folds out into a bed. The bigger suites will have a full-sized refrigerator.

Bhakta says regular-room rates will range from $40 and up, depending on the season of the year and day of the week. The owner, who lives in the Twin Cities, said a family member with hotel experience will be running the local Valu Stay Inn & Suites.

He said the business -- formerly America's Best Value Inn -- has been closed since August 2011 when the former owner died.

Bhakta says he knew the former owner and his family members, but the man was not his brother as many locals believe.

He knew none of the former owner's family was interested in keeping the business. Bhakta saw the local purchase as an opportunity to expand into a good location. He said he has 30 years of hotel experience, starting with one his parents bought in New Mexico shortly after arriving from India.

"We would make beds before school," Bhakta said about growing up around the family business.

Other than a short foray into the dry-cleaning industry, he has worked in and around the lodging business all his life.

Bhakta said he might host some kind of open-house event once everything is finished, but people are welcome to visit and take a tour any time after the motel re-opens.