Refurbished windmill hotel the latest in downtown Lynden revival

The windmill of The Mill Inn looks over downtown Lynden on Thursday, Sept. 15.
The windmill of The Mill Inn looks over downtown Lynden on Thursday, Sept. 15. eabell@bhamherald.com

A small hotel is ready to reopen as another piece falls into place for the community’s downtown revitalization plans.

The Mill Inn is scheduled to reopen on Saturday, Sept. 17, at 655 Front St. Formerly known as the Dutch Village Inn, it only has seven rooms but it comes with a 72-foot windmill. Tours are being offered from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

Three of the guest rooms are inside the windmill, making it one of the few hotels to have such a feature in the U.S., according to a news release. The Mill Inn has undergone major renovations since it was purchased in November 2013 by Neufeldt Properties. Tim Broersma and Brian Davidson are owners of the European-themed hotel.

While the remodeling work took longer than expected, it was worth it in the long run, Broersma said. He grew up in Lynden and said the project really became more of a passion as the downtown core has been revitalized.

With all the work done to the building and the nearby Waples Mercantile Building, it’s meant new tenants in downtown Lynden. That includes five new retail businesses in the Waples building and several new businesses at the Dutch Village Mall, including a café called The Mill by Perfectly Paired that opened last spring.

It’s quite a turnaround from June 2008 in the aftermath of the fire that nearly destroyed the Waples building, known then as Delft Square. In the months that followed, the downtown had more retail vacancies, including at the Dutch Village Mall.

With more businesses – particularly restaurants – in the downtown core, there’s been much more activity late into the evening and on weekends, said Gary Vis, executive director of the Lynden Chamber of Commerce.

“The additional dining opportunities is changing the dynamics (of downtown),” Vis said.

The increased popularity is putting a premium on parking spots. Vis said it hasn’t yet become a huge issue but from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., parking is a little tight as people drop by for lunch.

Since opening earlier this year, the 35-room Inn at Lynden has done well and co-owner Teri Treat said she’s thrilled by the response from the community. The occupancy rate is a little below original projections because the hotel opened later than expected, but the average daily room rate is up. What’s encouraging to Treat is the hotel’s growth rate – sales have risen more than 10 percent every month between March and August.

“We’re seeing longer stays than we expected,” Treat said. “Through Booking.com, we’re also getting more guests from around the world.”

The real payoff may come in the next few months as Lynden settles down after an event-filled summer. Along with the Lynden rodeo, the Northwest Washington Fair and Northwest Raspberry Festival, the community celebrated its 150th anniversary by building the world’s longest strawberry shortcake.

“It was a good summer to get people here and have them look around,” Vis said, noting that Lynden had an uptick in people visiting from the south, as well as Canadians on vacation despite the weak Canadian dollar.

Broersma is hoping the momentum continues, bringing the downtown back to the busy times he remembers in the 1980s. He’s optimistic that it will.

“So many people here have been committed to seeing it turn around,” Broersma said, noting that much of the work has been done behind the scenes by those who have been a part of downtown for a long time. “So many people have contributed to this.”

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz