|By Jane Brissett, Duluth News-Tribune,
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jun. 14, 2006 - In August, the Canal Park Inn is expected to be razed and in less than a year, a new 116-room, $17 million hotel will replace it.
With approvals by the Duluth Planning Commission Tuesday evening, the project is "99 percent" ready to roll, investor Terry Lundberg said.
Construction at 250 Canal Park Drive is expected to begin Sept. 1, Ron Anderson, secretary of Canal Park Lodge LLC, told the Planning Commission.
The three-story Lakewalk Lodge will be reminiscent of a North Shore lodge. "We're trying to make this a unique property," Anderson said. Lundberg described it as an "upscale hotel."
It will not be part of a franchise.
A group of Duluthians makes up Canal Park Lodge LLC, the company that is developing the hotel. Ted, Diane, Rockie and Paul Kavajecz own 50 percent of the company along with longtime employee Cyndy Reno. That group owns the Canal Park Inn.
Lundberg and his brother Scott, Andy Borg and Anderson and own the other 50 percent. They own the Hampton Inn and Comfort Suites in Canal Park. Anderson and Borg also are executives of Grandma's Restaurant Co., but Anderson said the company is not involved with the new hotel.
Construction of Lakewalk Lodge has taken precedence over building an addition to the Comfort Suites that has been planned for a couple of years, Terry Lundberg said after attending the Planning Commission. "This is more pressing," he said. The addition eventually will be built, he added.
Lakewalk Lodge is expected to open in May 2007, about the same time the Sheraton Hotel at 311 E. Superior St. will open with 147 rooms as well as condominiums on the top floors.
Lakewalk Lodge will be smaller than the Canal Park Inn, with 29 fewer rooms. The current hotel also has a restaurant and the new one won't.
It will contain high-quality real and cultured stone and large timbers to achieve a lodge-like feeling, Anderson told the Planning Commission. It will have "lots of good greenspace and landscaping" with many trees, he said. The parking lot will have 188 spaces.
The new design will reduce impervious surfaces on the property by about 4 percent to 74.5 percent, but needed a variance because it exceeded the 30 percent requirement. The Planning Commission approved the variance as well as changes to a concurrent use permit regarding the site plan.
The commission also approved a special use permit for 12,500 cubic yards of fill that will raise the elevation of the building by five feet, bringing it to the height of the other Canal Park lodging properties.
The hotel will be about 80 feet from the Lakewalk and 100 feet from the high-water mark of the Lake Superior shore, said Jim Mohn of the city planning department.
Planning Commission member Joan Morrison said that the Downtown Waterfront Mixed-Use DesignReview Committee enthusiastically endorsed the hotel last week. "It's not just a cookie-cutter kind of design," she said.
"We just didn't want to be a run-of-the-mill hotel on one of the last good pieces of property in downtown Duluth," Rockie Kavajecz said.
JANE BRISSETT can be reached weekdays at (218) 720-4161, (800) 456-8282 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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