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City, developers close on south shore land for hotel

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

BEMIDJI -- Construction of a Country Inn & Suites connected to the Sanford Center could begin in a month after the city and the hotel's developers completed the land sale Friday.

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Bay Ridge Properties International paid the city about $606,000 for the south shore land Friday, said city manager John Chattin. They signed a purchase agreement in March 2012 to pay $756,000, with a $100,000 down payment.

Another $50,000 came in April when the developers asked city councilors for more time to line up their loans and other financing for the $15 million project. The hotel, which city leaders say will be a major boon to conferences and other events at the Sanford Center, was delayed several times over the past 18 months.

"We are extremely pleased that this made it to closing and we look forward to them breaking ground soon," Chattin said.

Tripp Snyder, Bay Ridge chief executive officer, said Friday they still have to send their building plans to the city, and could begin construction once they receive the necessary permits. Some changes were made to the 121-unit hotel's roof since the project was initially proposed, so they'll also go before the Design Review Committee on Thursday.

"As soon as the permits for the foundation are issued, we'll be starting the grading and foundation work," Snyder said. "So we're going full steam ahead until we get this completed."

Snyder told the City Council on July 15 that construction could take eight to nine months, and the attached Cowboy Jack's restaurant could be finished in four to five months. Snyder confirmed Friday that they would be working through the winter.

Part of the hotel's construction includes $400,000 from the City of Bemidji's revolving loan fund, which is money generated from previous economic development grants. That $400,000 is specifically for the construction of the connection between the Sanford Center and the hotel.

The Headwaters Regional Finance Corporation and Paul Bunyan Communications will contribute $350,000 and $80,000 out of their revolving loan funds, respectively, for the project, said Tiffany Fettig, business loan consultant for the Headwaters Regional Development Commission.

Georgette Bloom, convention sales manager for the Sanford Center, said the hotel will have a "huge impact" on their ability to book conventions and weddings. She said three conventions rejected bids from the Sanford Center this year because a hotel wasn't attached.

"This is great news," Bloom said.

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