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75-room hotel proposed for Superior waterfront

Truman Howell Architects designed a proposed 75-room Hampton Inn and Suites planned for the Superior waterfront by Duluth-based ZMC Hotels. The new hotel would be between Perkins and the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. (Courtesy of ZMC Hotels)

A $9 million investment by Duluth-based ZMC Hotels could put a Hampton Inn & Suites on Superior’s waterfront.

With a view of the Superior Bay, the new 75-room hotel would be built between Perkins and the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center at 103 E. Second St.

On Wednesday, the city’s Redevelopment Authority approved the project area for the hotel.

“Brand names have chosen this site independent of one another,” said Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen. “The thing is after reviewing and looking at proposals … we’ve decided to turn to our own backyard, meaning ZMC Hotels. We feel very confident, very strong that ZMC Hotels is interested in our community here again.”

“We’re building a very similar hotel in Hibbing, Minn.,” said Todd Torvinen, president and chief financial officer of ZMC Hotels. That hotel is scheduled to open in December.

The company, founded by Monnie and Erwin Goldfine in the early 1970s, operates 30 hotels in 10 states, including the Bridgeview in Superior for more than 30 years, as well as the Edgewater Waterpark and Resort, Inn on Lake Superior and the Best Western in downtown Duluth.

“We’re here. We’ve been here. Our reputation is on the line here,” Torvinen said.

“We work hard to maintain our reputation as good neighbors and good employers, and we intend to continue that tradition with the Hampton Inn & Suites in Superior,” John Goldfine, vice chairman of ZMC Hotels, said in a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to lodge more visitors who can enjoy Superior’s many attractions.

ZMC Hotels aims to begin construction on the hotel this summer.

Jon Driscoll, chief operating officer for ZMC, said the hotel would be a good addition for the city because it is a good fit for both leisure and corporate guests as a mid-scale hotel.

“If we can get it in the ground … by January, we could do the fit out and be ready to go by mid-June to mid-July, and hit the summer tourism season,” Torvinen said. And he said they are willing to work with neighboring properties to make it work.

“Admittedly, it’s a little tight, but we’re willing to work with the Bong Museum and Perkins,” Torvinen said of the 1½-acre site where the hotel would be built. He said the businesses could complement one another, with hotel guests leaving when museum visitors are arriving, and could generate additional business for the neighboring restaurant and history center.

Parking is going to be a challenge, and it’s something the city is going to be working on, said Jason Serck, Superior’s economic development, planning and port director. To help alleviate the parking situation, Serck said Harbor View Park would be relocated to Marina Drive. The new park being planned would have a nautical theme.

Serck said the city is just in the initial stages to make the hotel a reality.

The Redevelopment Authority set a public hearing on the project for 2 p.m. July 30 in Room 204 of the Government Center.

Next week, the city’s Plan Commission will initiate plans to create a tax increment finance district in support of the project. Serck said the project wouldn’t involve borrowing to support the TIF. Tax revenue generated within the district would provide finances for incentives and site improvements for the hotel.

The Plan Commission will meet at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Room 201 of the Government Center to consider the proposal.