Chatfield-area residents will be observing a major change on the north end of the community when the former Val-A-Lodge motel is demolished to make way for a larger Kwik Trip gas station and convenience store.

"We needed a larger site," said Hans Zietlow of Kwik Trip, Inc., and real estate director for the La Crosse, Wis.-based company. The organization has purchased the former motel property on the corner of highways 52 and 30 in Chatfield to construct the new store.

Kwik Trip closed on the property this past month. The company had been looking to relocate the station to a new site for the past seven years because of accessibility issues and the need to expand services. Zietlow explained the existing station, being situated on the bend of Highway 52, also Chatfield's Main Street, causes traffic to slow or stop at a point where there is little room or visibility to do so. It is landlocked by residential and other commercial properties, making expansion of services, such as a larger kitchen or diesel bay, impossible.

Zietlow stated, "We will be able to offer better service with a new location, including an expanded kitchen, store area and addition of a separate diesel canopy. We will have 16 car fueling positions and two diesel truck fueling positions. Also, it will much better serve truck drivers and the company's delivery trucks by making it easier for them to get into and out of the station."

The move to the new location might provide more local jobs, Zietlow noted, "because with more room and more business, our need for staffing may increase."

Kwik Trip, Inc., typically builds 20 new stations a year, and replacing Chatfield's station is among its priorities this year now that property has been obtained.

Demolition of the Val-A Lodge will begin this month, taking up just a few short days of May. Though the Val-A Lodge property is adjacent to Mill Creek, the landscape will not be affected, nor does the company have any concerns with digging to install necessary equipment.

"Demolition will go quickly, and construction takes about four months - our projected opening date is late October," Zietlow said. "It goes quite fast. There won't be any highway interruptions during the demolition and construction. The existing station will be sold as soon as the new station is operational."

He invited the community to keep watch on the new station's progress and take advantage of the new location's amenities, as the company serves western Wisconsin, southeast Minnesota and northeast Iowa.

"We are a family-owned company in La Crosse. We have our own dairy, bakery, commissary, et cetera. Most of our products that we produce ourselves are delivered fresh to the store daily," Zietlow concluded.