"We are ready to put the piles into the ground now and are only awaiting a building permit from the Longyearbyen Community Council," said Svein Hugo Hansen, general manager of of Svalpro AS, the hotel's developer and builder.
The council approved a measure in August authorizing only the pilings, withholding authorization of further construction until a building plan was in place.
Sandmo & Svenkerud, which has the same owners as Svalpro, has been commissioned to build the hotel. The first construction stage includes 34 rooms in a three-story building. The building will also feature a small reception area, a breakfast room and a small kitchen.
Svalbardposten has previously written the hotel probably would be built for the Thon hotel chain and be ready to open in the spring of 2015. Contrary to Hansen's assertion, plans for the hotel have been ready for some time, but now the actual construction is starting.
The hotel is scheduled to be built in three phases and eventually feature 129 rooms. All the necessary facilities to run the hotel will be in place after the first stage, but the main restaurant is scheduled to be built during the second stage.
Svalbard Adventure Group will operate both the hotel and restaurant.
The 129 rooms will be distributed in three buildings on three floors.
Svalbard Adventure Group Administrative Director John-Einar Lockert said he is pleased construction will soon be underway.
"It's exciting for us to finally get started with the construction and the development of Norwegian jobs in Longyearbyen," he said. "The construction, ownership and operation are from Norwegian companies with strong local roots."
The first phase of construction is expected to be completed by the time tourism season starts during the first half of 2018.
Who pays for walkway?
The hotel will be built at the intersection of Melkeveien and Vei 500. A new walkway will be built along Vei 500, as well as a footbridge to the hotel from the walkway. Hansen said he believes it's unfair the company foot the entire cost of the walkway.
"We think the walkway is a municipal or government responsibility and that it belongs naturally to the main road," he said. "Regarding internal access routes, it is natural that the developer takes that cost."
The hotel was designed by the architect firm Årstiderne. It is scheduled to be fully completed by 2019/2020.
Svalbardposten wrote in November of 2014 that Store Norske distributed three plots of land the company owns at Elvesletta to three applicants. Hotels are planned for two of the plots and Kroa is planning a relocation to the third.
The other hotel builder is Po Lin Lee from Hong Kong. She received the plot closest to Sportscenteret. Her hotel, with the designated name Svalbard International Hotel, will feature two wings separated by a winter garden, playground and water installation that can can be turned into an ice rink during winter. The ground floor will contain a lobby, restaurant, bar and spa facilities, and rooms for Pilates and Tai Chi. The upper floors will contain 64 rooms.
Thomas Neuhold, a manager in Store Norske's property department, said she has not yet entered into any party agreement related to the hotel.
Svalbardposten has repeatedly tried to contact Lee by phone and e-mail with questions about her plans for the hotel. She has not yet responded.