|By Jane Brissett, Duluth News-Tribune,
Minn.McClatchy-Tribune Business News
Feb. 5, 2007 - BY JANE BRISSETT
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
The carpet isn't in, the light fixtures aren't installed, there's no furniture yet and the exterior isn't complete. But the new $40 million Sheraton Duluth Hotel and 311 Superior condominium project at Third Avenue East and Superior Street is booking rooms and events for this summer.
"Everything's on schedule," said George Sherman, president of Minneapolis-based Sherman Associates Inc., which is developing the project. "There's a lot to do. It's an ant farm over there right now."
More than 200 people work at the site daily, said Richard Hicks, northern division director for Sherman Associates.
The luxury 147-room hotel is well on its way to a scheduled opening in late May. The top five floors of the 11-story building will be devoted to 33 condominiums, and the first owner is expected to move in during early June. So far, 18 condominiums have been sold.
The hotel rooms will have a "Ralph Lauren type of style," said Jackie Wischermann of Wischermann Partners Inc., which is managing the construction and hotel operations for Sherman Associates. "They're so well-appointed that you just feel good."
Guest rooms will have custom-designed beds with plush-top mattresses, duvets, down pillows, flat-screen TVs and both wired and wireless Internet service. Standard room rates will range from about $79 to $249 per night, and the 14 suites will top out at about $329 per night, said Teresa Glatz, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.
Reservations are coming in. "We have a lot of group business on the books," Glatz said. Blocks of rooms have been reserved for occasions such as weddings and sporting events. The hotel is close to being full for Grandma's Marathon weekend, June 15-16, Glatz said.
The Sheraton staff also will work with the SMDC Health System to have rooms available for families of patients at all times.
Individual reservations are being taken, but they're tentative until the hotel is connected to the Starwood Hotels reservation system. The Sheraton brand is part of Starwood.
A veteran hotelier, Bernie Mullen, has been named general manager and will move to Duluth from Minneapolis. A staff of about 50 will be hired by April, Sherman said. Inside, the building will begin to look like a hotel in April, when the interior design work begins and furniture is delivered, Sherman said.
Although the week of Memorial Day will be the official opening, a soft opening is planned May 17 to help the staff gear up, said Brian Goering, sales and marketing director for Sherman Associates.
The hotel's amenities will include a full restaurant, concierge services, a fitness center, room service, laundry facilities, a heated indoor pool and whirlpool, Sherman said.
The hotel's ballroom actually will be in the Greysolon Plaza, across the avenue from the hotel. Restoration of the ballroom has been an ongoing project, Goering said, along with upgrades to individual apartments in the senior residence. Sherman Associates has invested
$14 million in upgrading that building and is working to get the building listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The first big event for the Sheraton's ballroom will be the Duluth Superior Symphony Orchestra's largest fundraiser, the Symphony Ball on June 8. It will be catered by the Sheraton. The event celebrating the 75th anniversary of the DSSO will be at the Greysolon ballroom because of its historic significance, said Terry Dunham, DSSO development director.
Condos in the hotel building continue to be sold mostly to Duluth residents, Goering said. Duluth's Cheryl Fosdick of CF Design has been hired as the exclusive designer for the units, which will have contemporary design elements, granite countertops and custom vanities. Fosdick's studio is kitty-corner from the Sherman project. "It's been a godsend to have someone literally right there," Goering said.
Condo prices range from about $275,500 to $900,000, sales manager Cheryl Archer said.
Sherman said his company will continue to own the hotel after its completion.
But when all is said and done on the hotel/condo project, Sherman said, he might look at smaller projects in the Old Downtown area. He said he wants to add another restaurant in the Greysolon Plaza, is considering a possible office or retail development behind that building and might develop some parking lots.
Copyright (c) 2007, Duluth News-Tribune, Minn.
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