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Bemidji City Council: Hotel agreement up for discussion

News Bemidji,Minnesota 56619
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Bemidji City Council: Hotel agreement up for discussion
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI – A long-delayed hotel attached to the Sanford Center will once again come before the city council Monday night.

And with no word on whether the developer’s finances are finally in order, the project’s future is unclear.

Lee Fundanet, chief operating officer of Wayzata, Minn.-based Bay Ridge Properties International, traveled to Bemidji Jan. 14 to reassure city councilors that the Country Inn & Suites project was on track despite several delays. The hotel’s construction was originally scheduled to begin last spring, but shovels have yet to go in the ground.

Fundanet also said at the time he was confident the financing would be finalized within 90 days. Now that that window has passed, the project will come before city councilors again in a special Bemidji Economic Development Authority meeting after the regular council meeting at 7 p.m.

Fundanet, along with Bay Ridge CEO Tripp Snyder are scheduled to attend, city manager John Chattin said.

Chattin said he hasn’t heard whether the developers will ask for more time.

“We’ve received no formal request of any kind at this point,” Chattin said Friday morning. Snyder and Fundanet did not return calls seeking comment.

Chattin said without any formal request, city staff has made no recommendation regarding the project to the council. Whether the city decides to cut ties and seek another developer for the land could be part of the discussion, Chattin said.

Third Liquor Store?

The council, in one of four separate meetings scheduled Monday night, will discuss the potential for a third city-operated liquor store in Bemidji.

The owners of Marketplace Foods have approached the city about establishing a store on the east side of their building, Chattin said.

The possibility for a third liquor store has come before the council as recently as 2010. At the time, the city council decided not to move forward due to financial constraints.

Last week, the council learned that city liquor stores increased sales by $156,000 in 2012. 

The work session on the liquor store begins at 6 p.m.

other actions

E The council will act on a bid to put a new “Welcome to Bemidji” sign on the Paul Bunyan State Trail bridge over state Highway 197.

The sign will cost the city $14,935, with $5,000 coming from the state Department of Natural Resources. In October, Gov. Mark Dayton mediated a discussion between city and state officials on replacing the current sign.

E City engineer Craig Gray will recommend the council award a $1.08 million bid to Reierson Construction for the 2013 street renewal project.

E The council will consider defining what boundaries make up the railroad corridor for future development.

The city’s revolving loan fund policy has identified the Soo Line Railroad Corridor as a priority, meaning retail businesses that would normally not be eligible for loans could in that area.

The railroad corridor, however, has not been defined geographically.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers local business and North Dakota politics. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Bemidji Pioneer.  

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