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Plans emerge for second marina hotel on Park Point

Owners of the Harbor Cove Marina plan to build a three-story hotel at the marina that is on the harbor side of Minnesota Avenue at 10th Street. The design was inspired by the Duluth Boat Club that stood majestically at the site in the early 1900s and served as the social center of Duluth. (Architectural renderings courtesy BDP Architects of Duluth)

Plans have resurfaced for a three-story hotel at Harbor Cove Marina on Park Point near a nine-story hotel planned for the marina next door.

Both hope to tap into marina traffic by offering dock space for lodgers arriving by boat.

Terry Anderson, Harbor Cove Marina co-owner, said the project was delayed while he and his partner, Bob Maki, doing business as Globe Duluth Enterprises, streamlined their operations and worked out details.

"We told everybody we were in no rush to do this," Anderson said. "We wanted to do this right, to take our time. Now, four years down the road, we're ready to go."

With a project cost of nearly $5 million, they have 90 percent of the financing, he said.

Next up is needed rezoning of the site -- on the harbor side of Minnesota Avenue at 10th Street South -- from industrial-waterfront to mixed use-waterfront. That request goes before the Duluth Planning Commission at its 5 p.m. meeting today in City Hall, where a public hearing also will be held. The request, along with the commission's recommendation, then goes to the City Council for a vote.

This time around, the Harbor Cove hotel project has been downsized to 55 rooms, instead of 116, though a second phase could be added later, Anderson said. Plans remain for a pool and meeting rooms in the 13,000-square-foot structure.

Its design, including 48-foot towers and ornate touches, was inspired by the Duluth Boat Club clubhouse that stood on the site in the early 1900s and was the social center of Duluth for years.

The hotel is designed to fit into the area like it's supposed to be there, and it will have a nostalgic feel to it, said the architect, Wayne Dahlberg of BDP Architects in Duluth, who also designed the nearby South Pier Inn near the Aerial Lift Bridge.

The zoning change is just a formality, observers say.

The project could have been built after it received city approval in 2009. But since then, the city's new Uniform Development Code governing zoning was adopted, requiring a mixed use-waterfront designation for the site.

"The city was going to do this anyway," Anderson said. "We are just complying with their new rules."

Duluth senior planner John Judd agreed.

"The planning commission would be hard-pressed to come up with a reason not to rezone it," he said. "That's what we're supposed to do under state municipal laws. We are to follow comprehensive plans."

And Duluth's comprehensive plan calls for waterfront-mixed uses -- including lodging, retail, restaurants, maritime and recreational -- a move away from the industrial uses that dominated that area a century ago.

While the zoning change appears to be a "done deal," people who live nearby object to the project, said Dick Gould, president of the Park Point Community Club.

"Residents between the bridge and curve at 13th Street are vehemently opposed," Gould said. "For the rest, it's what can we do? It's deemed commercial. It's legal to build on it. It's not something we can do something about."

Although Gould lives farther out on Minnesota Avenue, he is opposed to the hotel projects, but for another reason rather than proximity.

"Sewer and water lines are old and can't handle it," he said, noting Park Point's sewer line is 50 years old and its water line more than 100. "The utilities can't handle one hotel. It just isn't there. One bridge, one water line, one sewer line. They're old and they're tired."

Since the project was first brought forward, Joel Johnson, owner of Lakehead Boat Basin next door, brought forth plans for a larger, $22 million hotel development at his marina. It got the required zoning change a year ago.

That hotel project, to be called Park Pointe Inn at Lakehead Boat Basin, is still very much alive, Johnson said Monday.

"We're just doing a little tweaking of interior design before submitting it to the city," he said.

Anderson said he was a little surprised at first by Johnson's plans but doesn't mind the competition.

"We actually support him and hope he continues on," Anderson said. "The more there is, the merrier. It will just draw more people. We'd rather not be the only one."

Both said their marina operations would continue after the hotels are built.

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