Skeptics told Steve Townsend and his managing partners Rory Turner and Paul Jinneman, “I’ll believe it when I see it,” when discussions first surfaced of reestablishing a luxury hotel in Ellensburg's historical downtown district.

Passers-by have seen the corner of Fifth Avenue and Main Street go from a pile of dirt to a four-story skeleton in less than a year and on Friday a select group had the chance to tour The Hotel Windrow and Basalt, a 59-room, four-story hotel and restaurant, that will have four meeting rooms in the hotel and use of the ballroom in the adjacent Elks Building with an additional meeting room.

“Rory (Turner) bought the (Elks) building and started the refurbishment, and we got together when he found out I wanted to build a hotel in downtown,” 
Townsend said. “We basically sketched it out on a napkin over dinner as to what we could do with the empty lot next to the Elks.”

What they created was a scene from “Titanic,” combined with a touch of historic downtown Ellensburg, complete with revolving front door and sweeping grand staircase in the lobby with a grand piano on the landing serenading guests as they enter. The construction is expected to continue through the summer with a grand opening target date of Sept. 26, but with a bit of imagination the guests could imagine the first-floor dining facility, which will feature the creations of Larkin Young, executive chef for Basalt.

“It’s a little different shape than we originally envisioned, but the architects were able to make it work on this postage-sized lot,” Townsend said. “(The Elks) is a historic building, so we got the state historic architect involved in the project to make sure he agreed with the concepts we were pursuing.

“The unique features are going to be the lobby, the grand staircase, and the rooftop deck. The revolving door is the first one in town that I know of and grand staircase will be part of the first impression as you walk in. The rooftop, which we’re calling the Top of the Burg, will be rented out for parties or any one of a number of different occasions.”

Topping Off Party guests had a chance for an early look at the Top of the Burg rooftop terrace of the building designed by Jensen Fey Architecture and under the construction of TruFrame LLC of Battleground.

The Elks Building was a graduation party site for Ellensburg High School for 40 consecutive years, so generations of locals have sentimental ties to the building. The contractor will retain the outer brick wall of the Elks as part of the lobby in the Windrow as a visual staple to the historic past, complete with the Elks Club neon sign as part of the decor.

The 59-room establishment will feature valet parking, rooftop dining, revolving front door and a sweeping grand staircase in its iconic return to establishing a downtown hotel.

“We also intend to have music,” Townsend said. “I can envision a CWU music student playing our grand piano as guests arrive.”

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