THE OLD NORDIC Bay Inn, high on the hill overlooking US 41 and Lake Superior, is being demolished.
The owner, Adventure Lodging LLC, is tearing down the structures on the property this week after the buildings had sat there, unused and unoccupied, for several years.
What’s next for the property?
Adventure Lodging is planning to develop it as….something, still undetermined….or it may decide to sell it, although it’s not yet officially listed.
It’s a beautiful piece of property just a mile south of downtown Marquette but for whatever reason, the Nordic Bay and its predecessor, the Tiroler Hof Inn, weren’t making it.
By the way, the property won’t be entirely razed. The little chapel and a small house will be left intact for now.
A COUPLE OF problems have cropped up in the long overdue renovation of the building at 215 South Front Street.
Yeah, that’s the place where the street was just torn up, the one with the dumpster out front…and most important, the one where the wine bar will open up in June. We hope.
Why’s the dumpster out front, and not hidden away in the back? Well, because the yard in the back of the building doesn’t have access to a street. It’s landlocked. There is space back there to locate a dumpster but no way to get to it unless you cross over the adjoining property owned by the Watermarq, the next door neighbor.
That’s problem number one.
Problem number two concerns that vast and ugly yellow wall on the south side of the 215 building. The problem here is that the 215 building property line extends only about a foot beyond the wall, and then once again, it becomes Watermarq property. Kinda hard to repair, replace, or paint that wall when you’ve got only a foot of space to work in.
We have a dispute between the owners. The three White sisters (Anne, Sara and Katy) own 215 South Front. They grew up here, moved away, then decided to buy the building and renovate it. The Watermarq is owned by a few local partners, with Jim Kelly acting as the Chief Managing Member.
The Whites initially asked Kelly for 1) dumpster access in the back and 2) access to repair, resurface and repaint the big, yellow wall.
Kelly agreed but the fee would be $30,000.
The Whites countered with an offer of $5000, just for the dumpster access. They were advised that Michigan code guarantees them access to the wall–even without their neighbor’s approval. Kelly and his partners disagree with that interpretation, and they responded to the counter by saying their $30,000 offer stands.
So the two sides are stuck. No agreement, no access, and that pretty dumpster will remain on Front Street for the next few months.
Next step if this can’t be solved? A courtroom. Just what everybody wants. Because as we all know, lawyers are dirt cheap, the process won’t take long, it won’t delay the construction of the project, and, gosh, it promotes friendship between neighbors.
Stupid question: Isn’t there a pretty broad range between $5000 and $30,000? Can’t we all just get along here?
A few words of elaboration here: The access that the Watermarq would be granting to the Whites would be 2-3 months for the wall repairs…and up to a year for the dumpster access. It’s not just a matter of a few days, as some readers seemed to assume. Sorry for the misunderstanding.
HERE ARE A couple of numbers that’ll catch your attention. Two years ago, we had 6 B&B’s listed in Marquette and the surrounding townships. Today we have 75.
That’s a startling trend. For some of us, that’s exciting. For others, it’s alarming.
Of course, these aren’t your traditional B&B’s. These are homes, condos, apartments and rooms available for short term rent. In other words, homeowners trying to make some extra bucks–thanks to the popularity of VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner) and Airbnb.
If you check them online, you’ll find rooms in Marquette starting at $45 a night, all the way up to $2500 or more for a house for a week.
It’s the new economy, it’s unfettered capitalism.
Sounds great. But Taylor Klipp, the chairman of the Marquette Planning Commission has a few concerns.
- Will the increasing popularity of these new “B&B’s” simply attract more investors to Marquette instead of homeowners?
- With more short term rentals, will the viability of family-friendly neighborhoods be damaged?
- Will new investors–seeing the promise of profits from B&B visitors–drive property values way up?
- Will low and moderate income families be driven out of the housing market?
The concerns are reasonable. Klipp and the Planning Commission are planning to conduct a public forum on the issue after the New Year. The idea will be to come up with more restrictive regulations to govern the B&B phenomenon before it gets out of hand.
One other concern: How will these new B&B’s affect traditional hotels? Sure seems as though the hotels are losing business–one room at a time–to them.
For now, Nicole Young of Travel Marquette, says her group isn’t overly concerned.
But if 75 little B&B’s turn into 200 over the next year or two, well, that might be another story.
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