ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Our view: Far from your usual hotel

Still under construction and really just now taking shape, the Pier B development on the Duluth bayfront isn't much to behold. It may not even seem like anything special. Just another hotel.Looks can be deceiving.No, there aren't any glass-walled...

Still under construction and really just now taking shape, the Pier B development on the Duluth bayfront isn’t much to behold. It may not even seem like anything special. Just another hotel.
Looks can be deceiving.
No, there aren’t any glass-walled underwater rooms where guests can watch fish swim by, and the site’s old landmark silos haven’t been repurposed yet, as developers Sandy Hoff and Alex Giuliani both talked a lot about a few years ago while their project was still being dreamed. But with 140 hotel rooms, a destination restaurant, a 230- to 260-seat banquet facility, party decks, a heated walkway to a year-round outdoor hot tub, boat docking, rentals of everything from pontoons to kayaks to jet skis, and more - and all of it right next door to Bayfront Festival Park - their Pier B Resort promises to be transformational.
Duluth’s newest addition appears destined to live up to its hype. It even has the bell from Duluth’s old Flame restaurant, the one that used to be chimed every time there was shipping traffic outside its windows.
“Our mantra from day one is we don’t want to divide the pie further in Duluth. We want to increase the attraction value for our community. And we think this project is absolutely going to do that. We know that by adding (these) amenities, we will draw more people to our community,” Hoff, president of the F.I. Salter real estate agency here in Duluth, said Tuesday as the featured speaker at a luncheon sponsored by the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce.
“Let your imagination run wild. We’re going to have a lot of fun,” he said. “The overall character is going to be rustic elegance. It’s going to pay tribute to the working waterfront. There’s going to be lots of steel and concrete, even on the inside; separating the bar from the main lobby area, we’re using rusted steel sheet piling. So it’ll be really cool, very cool.”
The restaurant, banquet facilities and rooms all will look out toward Bayfront Festival Park, the Aerial Lift Bridge and the Duluth-Superior Harbor.
“Everybody gets an amazing view of the bridge and the harbor,” Hoff said.
Exterior brickwork will be reminiscent of the warehouses that once lined our waterfront.
“We wanted to capture the history of the waterfront, and we worked with state historic preservation office” to do that, he said.
A bridge across the slip will slide open 30 feet to let in boats and will slide shut to connect the hotel and resort to Bayfront Festival Park, the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, and, eventually, Canal Park via a public Lakewalk extension.
Public-private cooperation also allowed the walls of the slip between Pier B and Bayfront to be stabilized and pollution at its bottom to be sealed safely away. The slip remains about 10 feet deep.
In the winter, when the slip freezes over, Hoff said, it’ll be smoothed for skating, broomball and other activities, both for hotel guests and the public.
“It should be just a fabulous place for our community, a place that really showcases our community and waterfront,” Hoff said. “Alex and I said from the very start we wanted to build a building that was something we’d all be proud of.”
They’re succeeding, DECC Executive Director Dan Russell told the News Tribune Opinion page.
“It’s wonderful for the DECC; it’s additional rooms, especially for high-end conferences and whatnot,” Russell said. “And I think it’s really cool for Bayfront to have rooms right there. It just complements the whole waterfront.”
Chamber President and CEO David Ross called the Pier B project “ambitious and courageous.”
“What a treasure it’ll be for our community,” Ross said. “I’m sure all of us will look forward to getting there.”
Especially once the Pier B site’s landmark silos are repurposed. They once held cement brought in by ship that was then poured into bags for retail sale. Someday, Hoff promised, the silos will become condos, shops, a bar, a brewpub or a hotel expansion.
“We fully intend to do something in the future,” he said.
Duluth, be encouraged: We’ve heard the hype before.

Related Topics: TOURISMOUR VIEW
What To Read Next