Developers take cautious first steps
Superior's former port and planning director, Marshall Weems, envisioned 18 years ago a second housing development on Barker's Island. This year, that development -- Barker's Cove -- could become a reality. Weems, of Mission Development LLC, has ...
Superior's former port and planning director, Marshall Weems, envisioned 18 years ago a second housing development on Barker's Island.
This year, that development -- Barker's Cove -- could become a reality.
Weems, of Mission Development LLC, has proposed to develop four acres of unused property on Barker's Island to create an upscale townhouse and condominium village between the Barker's Island Marina and Marina Drive on the island's southern end.
The site plan calls for 24 two-bedroom townhouses constructed in three-unit buildings and a 34-unit condominium building with one-, two- and three-bedroom units. Parking would be on the first level, with residences on the upper floors.
But if soil conditions prove unsuitable, Mission Development is prepared to build additional townhouses in place of the condos. The townhouses are proposed to have an initial price of about $200,000 each, while condo units would range from $150,000 to $330,000.
"We'll be doing a lot of investigation on soils," said Bob Coborn, a partner in the proposed project. He has 38 years of experience in land development, in both central Minnesota and Duluth, working with J.W. Miller Construction Co. and General Contractors. "We are going to be approaching this project with great caution and care."
Environmental concerns will need to be addressed, including wetlands that have developed on the manmade island. Coborn said he believes the project can be done in such a way to manage stormwater and accommodate wetlands.
The men first worked together when Weems directed the St. Cloud Housing and Redevelopment Authority. The HRA was developing Westwood Village on 300 acres in St. Cloud.
"We were actually able to preserve 80 acres of natural area of the 300-acre development," Coborn said.
Plans for Barker's Cove remain in the early stages. At a closed session last week, city councilors granted Superior's Redevelopment Authority (RACS) oversight.
RACS granted the four-acre site tentative blight status Wednesday. Under Wisconsin law, "blight" is a designation that can be granted to property that doesn't have the necessary plats and utilities for development, said Bob Tofte, legal counsel for the authority. A public hearing is scheduled at 2 p.m. Jan. 24 to consider final approval.
The project will be guided by a development agreement. There are zoning and platting issues that could take as long as six months to resolve, said Jason Serck, Superior port and planning director.
Weems expects construction of the first phase of the three-phase project to begin in late summer or fall.
"We really need to do some more discovery, find out where those wetlands are and other things before we can spend all the money and time and energy to say this is exactly what we're going to do and when we're going to do it," he said. "We see this as a start, but have seen a strong indication so far that what we're proposing makes a lot of sense, and there is a market.''
The developers anticipate construction will take three to five years, but Coborn said that could change to ensure the project is properly done.
"It's a shame we haven't been able to utilize this property," said Rod Campbell, one of the original RACS members and owner of Campbell's Do It Center on Tower Avenue. "I'm sure you're all aware there is fantastic expansion going up all along the North Shore. Our trucks are up there all the time."
Campbell said there is a market for this type of development and "it's a shame" the city hasn't seen it previously.
"We think there is an opportunity for the city of Superior, for us of course and for people who want to recreate or live in Superior," Weems said.
Weems said those seeking a carefree lifestyle or an "urban cabin" to get away to are primary candidates to buy into the project.
"It's a wonderful situation to be looking at," Campbell said.