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DEDA votes for waterfront hotel plan extension

Duluth Economic Development Authority commissioners voted unanimously Wednesday evening to allow a three-month extension for developers planning a multimillion-dollar hotel on the city’s western waterfront.

Sandy Hoff, commercial and real estate developer, and Alex Giuliani, one of the investment partners, went to Duluth City Hall to discuss the proposal.

Hoff, Giuliani and partners have plans to construct a hotel next to the former Lafarge Cement terminal boasting 140 rooms, a banquet and event center, a waterfront restaurant and rooftop decks.

“Financing is finally in place, so we are ready to roll,” Hoff said. “We are pretty excited. Now, we are just looking to get the commissioners’ approval.”

Before the vote, a couple of councilors questioned the time frame.

City Council President and DEDA commissioner Linda Krug felt three months wouldn’t be enough time.  

 “You need four months to complete this, so is three months a realistic time frame?” Krug asked.

Giuliani said they would like more time but assured Krug that three months was enough.

“We are working diligently to make sure we can get everything done in 90 days,” Giuliani said. “I would rather ask for 120 days, but 90 days is sufficient time.”

DEDA commissioner John Heino was afraid that Hoff and Giuliani were settling for less than what they had envisioned.

“This is one of the best development opportunities in the Great Lakes. I’m a big supporter,” Heino said. “I’m just concerned with all the financial challenges you’ve faced and everything else that you guys are going to settle.”

Giuliani said it is a tough market but that they have stayed true to their vision.

Hoff said he was happy with the DEDA commission’s decision.

“I’m so excited they approved it; it was a unanimous decision,” Hoff said. “We are thankful for the constant support we received.”

Hoff and Giuliani can now start the process to finish the design plans. Hoff said he wants the hotel to open in mid- to late 2015.