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DoubleTree Hotel plans move forward

Rich Siegert with Edgewater Group announced Thursday that most of the site work for the development of a DoubleTree Hotel has been completed. The hotel will be attached to the Green Mill restaurant. Construction could begin this year. Graphic courtesy MJ Architectural Studios Inc.

Plans for a DoubleTree Hotel in Bemidji are moving forward, and construction could start this year, according to Rich Siegert with Edgewater Group.

Edgewater Group purchased the westernmost lot of Bemidji's South Shore development in 2010, spending $572,505 for 2.14 acres of property. The property sits next to Nymore Beach.

The building will be attached to the Green Mill restaurant. The Green Mill is currently attached to the Hampton Inn & Suites immediately to its west. The DoubleTree Hotel would be attached to the Green Mill to the east.

Plans for the hotel include six floors, at least 88 rooms, lakefront balconies, suites, lounge, conference room and other amenities, and will accommodate the Hilton Honors Program. Construction plans for the hotel could also entail the use of solar energy.

The timeline for construction was not made specific in a press release because engineering plans still need to be finalized. Siegert noted, however, the hotel could be completed by 2012. The construction time is generally 9 to 11 months.

To date, the Edgewater Group has invested between $9 and $10 million in the development. Siegert said it has taken 18 months to prepare the site for construction because of dealings with water lines, parking lot, land acquisition, storm water drainage, plans and landscaping.

"All these things came in at different times," Siegert said. "Making plans, it takes a while. A lot of research goes into it."

As stated in the press release, the Edgewater Group will employ many local contractors and builders for the construction of the hotel.

There were previous concerns from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the hotel's 100-foot setback from Lake Bemidji, instead of a 150-foot setback, which is the standard in the South Shore Planned Unit Development. But the Greater Bemidji Area Joint Planning Board approved the 100-foot setback because it would allow the hotel to keep its parking areas away from the lakeshore.

Siegert said the DoubleTree will be about the same height as the Hampton Inn and said it will be "barely noticeable" to people on Lake Bemidji or those using the trails around the lake.

When comparing the Hampton Inn & Suites to the DoubleTree, "the difference is in the services," Siegert said.

"The DoubleTree brand gave us more flexibility in how we designed it," he added. "We deviated a lot from the standards. They are looking for descent design, but it doesn't have to be the prototype."

The DoubleTree in Bemidji will be small compared to most DoubleTree hotels, which typically each hold 200 rooms. However, this hotel will likely offer lakeside balconies, which the Hampton Inn & Suites does not offer.

"The prices will be pretty comparable to the Hampton," Siegert said.

For now, Siegert said, Edgewater Group is working with an architect to finish the drawing and engineering plans. Eventually, prices and bids from construction companies will need to be gathered.

"If the bids come back higher, we may have to go back to the bank to get more money,"

he said.

Siegert said there have not been any hotels built in Minnesota in recent years because of the downturn in the economy. This has made hotel developers more cautious and slow to act, he said.

The DoubleTree Hotel will have a three-star rating from AAA, Siegert said. DoubleTree is a family- and business-friendly hotel, he said. The hotel's national headquarters are in Memphis, Tenn.