Group presents hotel plan

Representatives from Luna Rossa and a group of investors presented initial plans for reconstruction of the Wolf buildings as a boutique hotel at the Stillwater City Council workshop Tuesday afternoon.

The buildings need expensive repairs and the Luna Rossa group would like to request TIF funds to help with reconstruction.

City Development Director Bill Turnblad said the plans have gone through the Heritage Preservation Commission and Tuesday’s presentation was to explain the project to the council.

The overall project cost is an estimated $9.4 million, according to Luna Rossa’s financial representative Troy Hoekstra. The group has other investors interested in helping, but they feel TIF money could help with the building reconstruction portion of the project, which Hoekstra said could cost $1.15 million.

Architect Mark Fineman said the new hotel is slated to have a maximum 40 rooms and a third story would be created above Luna Rossa restaurant to add two more rooms to the boutique hotel. There is currently another business, Forget Me Not, located in the building but the representatives said they were working on building a mutually beneficial relationship with Forget Me Not’s owner.

Hoekstra said the hotel could provide 8 to 10 full-time jobs, and a number of part-time positions to Stillwater and once the complex is completed, it could be 40 full-time positions.

“Of course, this would all have to happen in a certain order. We have to get investors, approve tax credits, attract retail maybe in the form of the old brewery,” Hoekstra said.

He added that the group is currently doing a market survey in the next couple of weeks to give them more guidance about what the project might need and if they should move forward.

City Attorney David Magnuson reminded the council on behalf of City Administrator Larry Hansen that city staff had yet to look at the pro-forma of the project and would be happy to do so going forward. Council members agreed it was a great idea, but they want more information about the project.

“We plan to educate ourselves more as well, and we’d be happy to bring back more information to you at a later date,” Hoekstra said.

At the 7 p.m. regular meeting Turnblad presented the request for proposal (RFP) regarding a summer festival. Items highlighted by council included the fact the festival would be mainly held in the North Lowell Park area and could expand to the South Lowell Park Area if needed.

“I like the fact that it includes the involvement of local non-profits and civic groups to get people in the community to buy into it,” said Councilman Ted Kozlowski.

Councilman Mike Polehna encouraged Turnblad to consider an RFP that proposes
involving volunteer organizations in the community to create a mutual benefit. The vision highlighted by council members about having the festival concentrate on Stillwater without ignoring the Twin Cities region was confusing to some, but Polehna felt that an event planner couldn’t keep it solely concentrated in Stillwater and be successful.

“If we do something, people will come from the cities,” Kozlowski added.

Council also emphasized the importance of having activities for children.

Also at the workshop and regular meeting council:

  • Honored Sara Damon, a geography teacher at Stillwater Junior High School, with the city’s Human Rights award for her work providing clean water to people in South Sudan and her awareness-raising events that feature speakers who were part of The Lost Boys of Sudan.
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    Mayor Ken Harycki presents the Human Rights Award to Sara Damon at Tuesday night’s council meeting (Gazette staff photo by Avery Cropp)

 

  •  Learned that a soft rollout of the downtown walking tour will take place very soon. Two of 13 podcasts are currently available on the city’s YouTube channel and can be found at www.youtube.com/user/cityofstillwaterMN. The creator of the podcasts continues to search for the right photos to go with the other podcasts. The final rollout is expected to take place towards the end of August.
  • learned that the Army Corps of engineers work will be finished between Mulberry and Myrtle in the next week. City Engineer Shawn Sanders said the Corps has indicated that the project will be finished by the End of August when the city can begin grading for the amphitheater. There will be a small three foot berm on the river side of downtown when the project is complete. The city hopes to start their work on their projects which include repaving the parking lots shortly after Labor Day.
  • Was reminded that Night to Unite will take place on Aug. 6 at Washington Square Park. from 5-9 p.m.
  • Was told that a live fire training will take place on the West side of town Saturday morning.

Contact Avery Cropp at avery.cropp@ecm-inc.com

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