Bryon Gilday, site superintendent, from left, Kurt Mehnert, Raven Inn general manager and partner, and Doug Gilday, NGC Builders president and Raven Inn partner, pose for a photo next to the Raven Inn construction site on Second Avenue and Keish Street in Whitehorse on July 19. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Whitehorse investors plan to open boutique hotel downtown

19 of 57 rooms will be available for purchase

Within a day of moving to Whitehorse, Kurt Mehnert says he knew he’d never leave.

Now, he’s giving others a place to stay.

Mehnert is one of a group of partners, including NGC Builders and Northern Front Studio, behind the Raven Inn. The boutique hotel is slated to open on the Yukon River, at Keish Street and Second Avenue, in the latter half of 2019.

Mehnert said he was drawn to NGC and Northern Front because of the work the companies have done in Whitehorse to date.

NGC has worked on expansions to the Westmark Hotel and the 202 Hotel. Northern Front has been part of designing buildings including the new Sarah Steele Building, the Alexander Apartments, Waterfront Station and more. The News wasn’t able to reach Doug Gilday of NGC or Mary Ellen Read of Northern Front Studio by phone.

The 57-room Raven Inn will differ from the kinds of places Mehnert has worked in the past in that 19 of those units will be what Mehnert calls “residential units.”

What that means is that, while 39 of the rooms will be operated by the hotel management company, 19 will be available for purchase by people interested in renting the units out on their own.

Mehnert says the residential units, which have full kitchens, will function like managed properties. He says this kind of offering, which is popular in places such as Europe and Whistler, B.C., allows his development corporation to build more units than it would have been able to afford on its own.

“They’re sort of a vehicle for private investment,” he says. “We pre-sold 75 per cent of them already.”

Despite this, Mehnert says the pricing on these units has not been finalized, and will only be released on an inquiry basis. However, he also says a safe estimate is between $310,000 and $359,000.

Mehnert also would not say what the total cost of the project is.

He would say that he first became interested in building a place of his own because of his previous experience working at the Days Inn in Whitehorse (that’s the job that brought him to the Yukon in 2016). In the summer and during weekends when there are conferences and events, he says the hotels in town fill up quickly.

“It’s hard to find a room in town with the amenities that people are looking for,” says Mehnert, who has previously worked at Northern Rockies Lodge in Muncho Lake, B.C. — a premier hotel on the Alaska Highway that offers lodge rooms, chalets, cabins and RV camping.

Some of the amenities that will be offered at Raven Inn include an outdoor hot tub and sauna as well as rooms with decks overlooking the river. Pre-sale brochures for the residential units also promise a gym, a yoga room and a rooftop terrace.

Mehnert says there will also be a lounge onsite, managed as a separate establishment by the hotel, serving drinks and entrees. He said the plan for the lounge will be released in the coming months.

While there are no concrete designs available yet for the hotel, Mehnert said it will incorporate some of the historical architecture of the buildings in Dawson City, mixed with the modernity of Whitehorse.

“When people come here, it’s a unique design that they expect to see in the Yukon and it’s very important for us to stand out in that way.”

Contact Amy Kenny at amy.kenny@yukon-news.com

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