Water Street Inn expansion moves forward

The planning process for a proposed Water Street Inn expansion will move forward after the Stillwater City Council gave approval for the conceptual design.
The council voted to approve amendments to a special use permit to build a rooftop patio and an 80-foot-clock tower on the north corner of the building. The council tabled a request for a variance to the front-yard setback, pending further discussions.
Community Development Director Bill Turnblad said city staff will continue to work with owner Chuck Dougherty and the expansion design company, ARCHNET, regarding parking and the current proposed change to Myrtle Street, which would make it 20 feet wide instead of 28 feet wide.
“We do not believe a 20-foot street is sufficient,” Turnblad said. “It’s not safe, therefore we recommend denial of vacating this portion of the street.”
After discussions occur at the staff level regarding parking and design, the final recommendations will be brought to council for a final vote. Parking issues need to go through the parking commission. Most council members said they liked the design but that the issue of the proposed street change needed to be addressed.
“I like the project,” Councilmember Tom Weidner said. “I like your design, and I like the elements. But saying you’re going to build it in the street is unreasonable to me. I’m in favor of the entire project, except move it back eight feet.”
Councilmember Ted Kozlowski said he’s in favor of the project as well and would like to see the clock tower back downtown, but he asked about the impact of music on the patio.
Dougherty said music on the rooftop patio would only be allowed until 10 p.m. and added that he’d work within the parameters that have been established for music on rooftop patios when they determined how the music would echo downtown.
The question of garbage was addressed as well by Councilmember Mike Polehna. This has been an issue that surfaced with the Water Street Inn in the past. Dougherty said a garage-type structure for garbage is included in expansion plans and that his team is currently working with the gas station across the street to set up a community dumpster.
The expansion project includes 20 more rooms, a first floor renovation, a new front entrance, a rooftop patio and a clock tower. If the final plans are approved, Dougherty said he hopes to begin construction in fall 2015, with the aim of completion by spring 2016.
As the process moves forward, Dougherty said any changes to the design would have to maintain the financial feasibility of the project. City staff and project designers will have to come to an agreement to keep Myrtle Street as wide as possible, to accommodate pick-up and drop-off traffic, and accommodate an economically-feasible expansion of the Water Street Inn.
“We’re very excited about this,” Dougherty said. “This completes that block. It gives a face and a place to the Water Street Inn that it’s always kind of been lacking the way it’s set up now. It’s going to be a nice anchor for Lowell Park and the bicycle and pedestrian trails coming into town, a focal point for people coming into town down Myrtle Street. And it also brings back a slice of Stillwater history we lost about 50 years ago.”
Further discussion on the project is expected at future council meetings.

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

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