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Hampton Inn proposed for Superior waterfront

Truman Howell Architects designed a proposed 75-room Hampton Inn and Suites planned for the Superior waterfront by Duluth-based ZMC Hotels. The new hotel would be between Perkins and the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. (Courtesy of ZMC Hotels)

A $9 million investment by Duluth-based ZMC Hotels could put a Hampton Inn & Suites on Superior’s waterfront.

With a view of the Superior Bay, the new hotel would be between Perkins and the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center at 103 E. Second St.

“Brand names have chosen this site independent of one another,” said Mayor Bruce Hagen. “The thing is after reviewing and looking at proposals … we’ve decided to turn to our own back yard, meaning ZMC Hotels. We feel very confident, very strong that ZMC Hotels is interested in our community here again.”

“We’re building a very similar hotel in Hibbing, Minn.,” said Todd Torvinen, president and chief financial officer of ZMC Hotels. That hotel is scheduled to open in December.

“This will be our 32nd hotel and our 12th Hampton Inn & Suites,” Torvinen said.

The company, founded by Monnie and Erwin Goldfine in the early 1970s, operates 30 hotels in 10 states including the Bridgeview in Superior for more than 30 years, and the Edgewater Waterpark and Resort, Inn on Lake Superior and the Best Western in downtown Duluth.

“We’re here. We’ve been here. Our reputation is on the line here,” Torvinen said.

“We work hard to maintain our reputation as good neighbors and good employers, and we intend to continue that tradition with the Hampton Inn & Suites in Superior,” John Goldfine, vice chairman of ZMC Hotels, said in a prepared statement. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to lodge more visitors who can enjoy Superior’s many attractions.

ZMC Hotels hopes to begin construction on the 75-room hotel this summer.

“It’s our preference to operate Hampton Inns; they’re a great brand to operate because they support their franchisees, said Jon Driscoll, chief operating officer for ZMC. He said it would be a good addition for the city because it is a good fit for both leisure and corporate guests as a mid-scale hotel.

“If we can get it in the ground … by January, we could do the fit out and be ready to go by mid-June to mid-July, and hit the summer tourism season,” Torvinen said. And he said they are willing to work with Perkins and the Bong Center to make it work.

“Admittedly, it’s a little tight, but we’re willing to work with the Bong Museum and Perkins …” Torvinen said of the 1½ site where the hotel would be built. He said the businesses could complement one another, with hotel guests leaving when museum visitors are arriving and could generate additional business for the neighboring restaurant and history center. However, he said in some respects, the Bong Center could be complementary, with visitors there leaving when hotel guests are arriving and hotel guests leaving when museum visitors are arriving.

Parking is going to be a challenge, and it’s something the city is going to be working on, said Jason Serck, economic development, planning and port director. To help alleviate the parking situation, Serck said Harbor View Park would move to Marina Drive. The new park being planned would have a nautical theme.

Hagen said the city is working with an engineer to optimize parking for all three businesses in the area. He said the city is planning a nautical theme for the new park.

“It’s going to be an exciting opportunity for everybody,” Hagen said.

Serck said the city is just in the initial stages to make the hotel a reality in Superior.

Wednesday, the city’s Redevelopment Authority approved the project area for the waterfront hotel and set a public hearing for 2 p.m. July 30 in Room 204 of the Government Center.

Next week, the city’s Plan Commission initiates plans to create a tax increment finance district in support of the project.

Serck said the project wouldn’t involve borrowing to support the TIF. Tax revenue generated within the district would provide finances for incentives and site improvements for the hotel. The Plan Commission meets at 3 p.m. next Wednesday in Room 201 of the Government Center to consider the proposal.