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Hockey Day is coming to Bemidji; 13th annual event set for winter 2019

Hotel developers get more time

BEMIDJI – City councilors gave the developers of a long-awaited hotel connected to the Sanford Center more time – for a price.

Bay Ridge Properties International will pay $50,000 for an additional 90 days to line up their finances to build a Country Inn & Suites on the south side of Lake Bemidji. That conclusion came out of a Bemidji Economic Development Authority meeting Monday night.

Tripp Snyder and Lee Fundanet, Bay Ridge chief executive officer and chief operating officer, respectively, were in attendance Monday. They presented the councilors with two proposals: Paying $50,000 for 90 more days or buying the land outright for the full $756,000 stated in the purchase agreement.

The developers have already put down a non-refundable payment of $100,000 for the project.

If construction hadn’t started within a year of that land being purchased, the city could buy back the land, city manager John Chattin said.

Councilors voted unanimously for the $50,000 option instead.

“We all definitely want the hotel built,” Ward 4 Councilor Reed Olson said. “I think that might be the safest route to go.” When asked after the meeting how confident he was they would meet that deadline, Snyder simply stated: “100 percent.”

Liquor store

A proposal to add a third liquor store in the city faced scrutiny during a city council work session Monday night.

John Meyers, president of Pace Development Inc. and executive vice president of Marketplace Foods, came to the city a couple months ago with a proposal to lease a portion of the Marketplace building to the city for a liquor store.

After some negotiating with city staff, Meyers came before the council Monday night.

The proposal comes as Pace plans major changes to the Westridge shopping center. That will include Office Max downsizing and moving into a portion of the current Marketplace Foods building. Marketplace is staying but will also undergo changes. A T.J. Maxx will replace the Office Max.

An unnamed sporting goods store is also looking into moving into the space previously occupied by Fashion Bug, Meyers said.

The proposal presented Monday would allow the city to opt out if its sales don’t reach a certain amount after three years. And if the new store does well and the city wants to close its current north liquor store, the developer will take over that building.

Ward 5 Councilor Nancy Erickson said she had concerns about giving a private business a “competitive advantage” when the city operates the other liquor stores in town.

Ward 2 Councilor Roger Hellquist also said he would like the city to thoroughly vet other potential options.

Ultimately, the council didn’t make a formal recommendation to staff, but expressed some interest in the idea and left it open for further discussion.

Public access funding

The public affairs committee approved a capital funding request from Upstream TV for almost $20,000 worth of cameras, microphones, tripods and editing equipment.

Other actions

— The council approved a recommendation to spend almost $15,000 to replace the current Paul Bunyan Trail bridge sign.

— A construction bid was awarded to Reierson Construction for the 2013 street renewal project for $1.08  million. Hellquist was the only dissenting vote.

— The council expanded borders of what it considers the railroad corridor for the purposes of its revolving loan fund. The new borders go from Second Street Northwest south to the current borders near the depot. Erickson and Hellquist dissented.

John Hageman

John Hageman covers North Dakota politics from the Forum News Service bureau in Bismarck. He attended the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he studied journalism and political science, and he previously worked at the Grand Forks Herald and Bemidji Pioneer.  

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