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MINNEAPOLIS-RWB Development Co. plans to more than double the size of the Chambers luxury hotel in the 900 block of Hennepin Avenue with the finished space nearly tripling to 85,000 sf. RWB has hired Rockwell Group as the lead designer and architect with locally based Shea, Inc. to serve as the local architect of record.

“We had always planned to expand the hotel as part of a ‘Phase II’ development,” says Ralph Burnet, lead partner of RWB Development Co. “However, as we got further into the planning we realized it would be far less disruptive to guests, and far better financially, to do everything at once.”

The hotel will now have 27 luxury suites, three more than originally planned, plus an additional 26 deluxe rooms. Its footprint will expand to include not only the former Fairmont Hotel building at 900 Hennepin Ave., but also the adjacent parking lot and ProColor building at 909 Hennepin Ave. Finished space will go from the originally estimated 30,000 sf to more than 85,000 sf.

Ralph Burnet, general partner of RWB Development Co., says it was “an incredible coup” to be the first in the Twin Cities to hire Rockwell Group. Rockwell is the design firm behind such sites as the Academy Awards home Kodak Theater in Hollywood, CA, as well as the W New York and W Union Square hotels in New York City, Nobu restaurants in New York and Las Vegas, Coors Field in Denver and Chambers’ sister hotel in New York City.

With the expanded plans, the hotel is now expected to open in early 2006. As a result, it will no longer be the new home for La Belle Vie. Owners Josh Thoma and Tim McKee have opted out of the project and will seek an alternative site for the restaurant.

With the new construction and revised opening date, RWB Development does not anticipate finalizing new plans for foodservice and hospitality until some time in 2005. Ira Drukier is a partner in the new venture and will manage the new hotel’s operations. Drukier, and his company, BD hotels, also operate the Chambers and Mercer Hotels in New York City.

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