New Park Point hotel opens on May 30
Off the beaten track from the busy entry to Park Point, Duluth’s newest hotel has taken shape over the past two years at Harbor Cove Marina.
And it’s happened largely out of sight. And without the controversy that surrounded plans for a much larger, taller waterfront hotel that was to be built at the Lakehead Boat Basin marina next door.
While the Lakehead project hit roadblocks and stalled, culminating in a lawsuit against the city, the Harbor Cove hotel project quietly moved forward.
Now the $8 million Park Point Marina Inn is nearly done.
Work to ready the three-story, 68-room harborside hotel for its targeted May 30 opening moved into high gear this month with finishing work, final touchups and landscaping underway. Rooms and spaces are being cleaned and set up. Deliveries keep coming, of beds, TVs and microwaves for the rooms. And the last of the 25 staffers needed are being hired.
“I’ve never seen so many cardboard boxes in my life,” developer Terry Anderson said on Friday. “Trucks are coming and going all the time. There’s so many minor details, so many semi-loads of things that come in.”
He admitted the final rush to get things done — after four years of planning and two years of construction — is stressful.
“It will be a big relief in a couple of weeks,” he said, referring to the hotel’s opening. Anderson, along with Robert Maki, a Duluth attorney, own both the marina and the hotel.
Anderson also owns EBI Drilling in Duluth, which was the project’s general contractor. The hotel was designed to be energy efficient and to conserve water and was built with earth-friendly materials, including some salvaged and reclaimed wood. Once open, that green approach will continue with hotel-wide recycling, use of biodegradable cups and plates and sensors that turn room and hallway lights off when no one’s around.
While the hotel is set to open May 30 and will take guests, it isn’t taking online reservations for stays before June 1 to better acclimate the staff, said David Riddle, the inn’s general manager.
Rates are comparable to Canal Park hotels, ranging from $99 to $400 a night, depending on the season.
So far, Riddle said, bookings are going well.
“We’re already full some weekends,” he said.
The Park Point Marina Inn will be Park Point’s second hotel. The South Pier Inn, at the foot of the Aerial Lift Bridge, is smaller with 29 rooms and two stories.
At 1033 Minnesota Ave., the new Park Point Marina Inn is within walking distance of the Aerial Lift Bridge and Canal Park. It will allow guests to arrive by boat and dock right outside the hotel, an amenity some say is needed in Duluth.
But Anderson said they’re not expecting a lot of guests arriving by boat. While the Harbor Cove Marina has room for 107 boats, only six transient docks for hotel guests will be available within 60 feet of the hotel.
Hotel amenities include an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, exercise room, meeting rooms, outdoor patios, complimentary breakfasts and shuttle rides to Canal Park and Amsoil Arena.
Most of the 68 deluxe rooms have private balconies. Rooms either have a view of the harbor, marina and ships coming and going; or of the Aerial Lift Bridge and downtown Duluth, which is a spectacular sight at night, Riddle noted.
“We have such a beautiful facility and such a beautiful building,” he said.
Throughout the 37,000-square-foot hotel, the history of the site is an overriding theme. A century ago, the Duluth Boat Club’s grand clubhouse and boat house stood majestically on the site, Anderson said. Considered the social center of Duluth, it boasted grand parties, championship rowing teams, sailboat flotillas, regattas, water carnivals and sailing races.
The design by B D P Architects of Duluth sports a contemporary seaside look in iconic grays and whites with deep blue accents that echo the blue of Lake Superior. It includes features inspired by the old clubhouse, including two 48-foot towers and interior woodwork.
The history of the Duluth Boat Club is everywhere, in the old pictures displayed in the rooms, in the images used with the signage and on the room number plaques.
Rooms have tall ceilings and solid wood furnishings in deep rich grain and fixtures that hark back to an earlier time, including beds with tall headboards. Outside the rooms, sconces dot the hotel hallways.
A mural painted by Duluth artist Brian Olson stretches around the walls of the hotel’s small guest bar depicting scenes of the old boat club and surrounding area, including houses that actually stood nearby 100 years ago.
“The architects did a great job in incorporating the historic features of the 1920s boat club into a modern design,” Riddle said, noting the towers and the woodwork in the hallways and lobby, the vintage-style lighting and bathroom faucets.
During excavation, Anderson even uncovered the club’s old boardwalk — bricks over wood over tar paper. He also found four oars likely dating back to the boat club that eventually will be displayed at the hotel.
An alternating exhibit of boat club artifacts on loan from the St. Louis County Historical Society is also in the works for the hotel, Riddle said.
“It’s a nice concept,” Park Point Community Club President Dawn Buck said of the new hotel. “The other one was supposed to be very tall. No one liked that.”
The community club never took a stand on the project, but some residents are concerned about increased traffic on an already busy Park Point in the summer.
“Obviously, with a hotel, that means more traffic, more cars,” Buck said.
And it means more people biking, going to the beach and enjoying Park Point in other ways, she said.
“If you build hotels, you’re inviting people to come down, and we better be ready for our guests,” she said. “We want to make sure there are places to put garbage, that there is good signage, park rangers and trash cans. Basically, we’re looking for support from the city.”
The hotel shares a quiet stretch of Minnesota Avenue with marinas, the U.S. Coast Guard’s Duluth station, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and some houses. But the city sees more commercial development coming.
A city plan to divert traffic coming off the Aerial Lift Bridge to that quiet stretch of Minnesota Avenue by moving an “S curve” street configuration is on hold, pending further City Council discussion.
But Anderson said the plan would benefit the hotel as well as encourage other nearby development.
“The city sees the need for a new road and improved sidewalks,” he said. “They see the future. They’re looking 15 years down the road.”