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South Shore Development: Lake Bemidji Lodge progressing, kind of

The Lake Bemidji Lodge project, which would feature a mixed use of commercial and residential development on the south shore of Lake Bemidji, is tentatively advancing. Photo Courtesy MoDevUSA

Lake Bemidji Lodge, a mixed-use development that would be located along the south shore of Lake Bemidji, is advancing. Tentatively.

Drew Olson, principal with MoDevUSA, said Wednesday that developers will wait about two-three months to determine if the market is strong enough to support the project.

If there is enough interest - which Olson believes there is - ground will be broken in April.

Lake Bemidji Lodge, which will have a total price tag of about $6 million, would consist of 22 residential units ranging in size from 720 to 1,900 square feet. All units would have outdoor space, their own parking space in a garage, a storage locker and access to a shared workout and yoga facility.

An additional guest room would be available for homeowners hosting visitors.

The cost of the units would range from $169,000 to $299,000, Olson said.

While there is a "high likelihood" that the project will break ground in April, Olson said he could not guarantee that would happen until the market proves itself strong enough.

"We have to make sure the market is there," he said. "Really, it is in our best interest to move forward cautiously."

Lake Bemidji Lodge would have four stories of residential units; the ground floor would consist of a great room and also would feature 12,000 square feet of commercial space.

Zorbaz on the Lake is still proposed to occupy the commercial space on the lower level.

That means the council would, again, be asked to reconsider a 2 a.m. bar closing time.

Zorbaz founder Tom Hanson asked the council in February to consider the 2 a.m. bar closing time. The council denied the request 4-2 (Councilor Barb Meuers was absent).

Olson then appealed to the council in April to reconsider. The council chose not to do so.

Olson confirmed Wednesday that Zorbaz still is planned to be a part of the project, noting that the company has signed a contract to purchase space in the development.

Olson said that when he does approach the council again about the 2 a.m. bar closing, he will have in hand all the financing in place and know that the market is solid.

He said he hopes that might make a difference.

"If we do those things, we think we may have different results," he said.

If not, he said, he would have to talk with Hanson - who has said he would not locate in Bemidji without a 2 a.m. bar closing time - about the future of the Zorbaz plans.

Olson said Hanson has been the only commercial developer who has been committed to Bemidji through the Lake Bemidji Lodge project.

Olson said MoDev has not purchased land for the project. Financing has been secured, but he will not sign a contract for the land until he knows for certain the future of the project based on market demand.

"Until then, we have to proceed really cautiously," he said.

He did not specify a number of units that must sell to make the project a certainty, but said it is more to gauge the interest in the community.

Those interested can view more about the project online at

The local contact on the residential units is Jake Stoutenburgh with ERA Pederson & Associates of Bemidji.