The sun was bright on the corner of North 11th Street and Tower Avenue as Superior business and community leaders joined Cobblestone Hotel and Suites officials Wednesday, Oct. 7 to ceremonially break ground on a new downtown hotel.

Actual construction of the new 60-room Cobblestone Inn and Suites is expected to get started in about three weeks, according to Brian Wogernese, CEO of the Cobblestone franchises. He said the final piece — a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to help fund the project — finally fell into place.

The project, announced last year, has been five years in the making. Site issues earlier this year delayed the start of construction when it was discovered that rubble remained after the demolition of the Palace Theater and Odyssey’s Night Club in 2006.

“It hasn’t been easy,” Mayor Jim Paine said. “This is a complicated project. There have been plenty of challenges. There will probably be a few more to come, but we’re going to get this hotel built.”

Cobblestone franchises CEO Brian Wogernese speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Cobblestone Hotel and Suites on the corner of North 11th Street and Tower Avenue. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)
Cobblestone franchises CEO Brian Wogernese speaks during the groundbreaking ceremony for Cobblestone Hotel and Suites on the corner of North 11th Street and Tower Avenue. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)

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Wogernese said while some projects go faster, like a deal reached after a year for a Cobblestone Hotel and Suites in International Falls, Minnesota, other projects have taken longer and still haven’t come to fruition.

“When COVID started, it was gloom and doom,” Wogernese said. “We all sat in our basements going ‘we’re never going to get anymore development done’ and that’s the way it’s going to be.”

He acknowledged that some projects have fallen through because banks put the brakes on financing, but that wasn’t the case in Superior.

Superior Choice Credit Union is helping to finance the $8 million project.

“This is a project that is going to be tremendous for the city and for the area to be quite honest,” said Dave Strum of Superior Choice Credit Union.

People gather for the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 7. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)
People gather for the Cobblestone Hotel and Suites groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 7. (Tyler Schank / tschank@duluthnews.com)

“This is a big deal,” Paine said. “I’ve been excited about this since I first walked into the Cobblestone Inn in Chippewa Falls. I knew right away they had every vision that I had for a vibrant, downtown community.”

Wogernese said the 60-room hotel will feature mostly suites.

He said the steakhouse in the hotel will feature a wine list and 20 different Wisconsin craft beers, in addition to the menu.

Paine said he will definitely be a customer when the hotel opens

“I can’t swear I’m ever going to stay in one of the rooms, but I know I’m going to go into the restaurant … and I know that the people staying in the rooms will go into the other places around Superior, plus they’re going to come back. This is going to be a major anchor in our downtown.”

Taylor Pedersen, president and CEO of the Superior-Douglas County Area Chamber of Commerce and Travel Superior, offered his congratulations to the officials from Cobblestone.

“I am so excited to have you as part of the community,” Pedersen said. “This will be a wonderful addition to both our business community and our tourism community.”

This story was updated at 10:15 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7 to correct the spelling of Dave Strum's name. It originally posted at 5:10 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7.