Posted 11/24/15 (Tue)
By Kevin Killough
Capital Lodge has officially closed.
Naomi Thomas, former operations manager, said the lodge had been losing business for some time.
“We operated for as long as we could, but we just couldn’t do it anymore,” Thomas told the Tioga Tribune last week.
The closure came about a month ago. The staff was informed they’d no longer be serving food. A couple weeks later, owner Mike Bourdreaux announced the lodge was closing for good.
Ever since the oil industry had been cooling in the Bakken, Capital Lodge had been considering a different approach to housing as a means to stay viable.
At one point, the company proposed converting the facility into a permanent, extended-stay hotel.
The Tioga and Ray Commissions voted in favor of that enterprise.
Though the plan fell within the Williams County Comprehensive Plan for the U.S. 2 corridor where the lodge is located, county officials were concerned it would set a precedent that would allow man camps some kind of permanency.
The commission never explained how the repurposing could have such an impact or what the lodge could do to address their concerns.
The decision effectively terminated any plans to repurpose the facility.
The company also looked into moving the units to serve demand elsewhere.
Most recently, the company received approval from the town of Beulah to set up a crew lodge there, and the company planned to move enough units to serve 250 to 400 beds from the Tioga location.
The operation was to serve as housing for workers constructing a $500 million fertilizer plant near the town.
The plan faced a lot of local opposition, and as a result, the final approval came with stipulations that made it economically infeasible, including a $400 per bed fee.
The plan was only approved for one year, and there were no certainties it would be renewed.
Bourdreaux had not responded to a request for comment as of press time Tuesday.