by Duluth News Tribune
June 7, 2012 at 7:00 pm in Duluth News Tribune
Duluth-based ZMC Hotels has dropped plans to build a new hotel on Maple Grove Road in the face of public opposition to its request for a zoning change.
Tags: Business, city of Duluth, Duluth 14 Comments »
How MUCH public opposition? Awfully wimpy of ZMC to back down so easily.
What is there to oppose? I haven’t seen the plans for the hotel but I reckon the opposition is opposed to anything in principle which = NIMBYism.
The site is ripe and ready for a motel (I suspect it’s more motel than hotel). Look at it as it stands. The place is an eyesore. A new hotel would have probably been accompanied by road improvements and landscaping to boot.
That won’t occur now.
So, NIMBYs don’t complain about your high property taxes, traffic congestion, drainage or the decaying state of affairs on that stretch of frontage ’cause it ain’t gonna change thanks to you.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 32 12
Doesn’t surprise me. Look how long it took Walgreens to build in Kenwood and the world hasn’t come to an end as a result of that.
Point is, the threat of progress will always create pushback in this town which runs counter to everything so many complain about (no jobs, no opportunity, etc). Grant it, the jobs created from a new hotel are not going to be top paying, however, it is a “multi-million dollar” project which is “multi-million dollars” less without it and adds nothing to our dwidling tax base without it.
I hopeful ZMC can get this through.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 23 8
Opposition in this town means one thing usually, something environmental. Duluth is hopeless when trying to build a tax base with new development. Maybe if we had more revenue coming in, our water rates would not be going up 8-20%? Face it, Duluth has become a tourist town and stopping hotel investments borders on stupid.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 25 9
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Blighty and Kos dog – Get your facts before assuming that the neighbors didn’t want the hotel. The neighbors willingly signed on to the hotel idea (even the ones directly across the street) – what happened though is the hotel failed to mention that they were interested in also putting a busy restaurant on the same site (there was absolutely no mention of a restaurant in the posted zoning notice or mentioned in the neighborhood meetings) so the neighbors apparently opposed the addition of that restaurant after they gave their blessings to the hotel. There were also big concerns on where the access road would be and how it would impact an already busy road. With these questions, apparently the Hotel pulled out. This is already a very busy road tucked inside a neighborhood that already makes walking dangerous. This property is supposed to be a buffer of sorts between the busy commercial area of the mall and the neighborhood that starts right there. Neighbors were very supportive of the hotel but not of a much busier (with triple the traffic) restaurant. Tax base is important but we need to protect the safety of the families and the intergrity of the neighborhood first. The Hotel apparently decided rather than alter the idea of adding a restaurant, or work to make it a safe plan that would fit, they would rather give up. I would have to agree with the other post that said they must not have been too serious to give up that easily. I am sure if they came back to the neighborhood meetings with a plan as they originally got support for, they would once again have the complete support of the neighbors.
Poorly-rated. Like or Dislike: 12 22
I appreciate the added insight the article did not mention in as much detail you expressed, however, if you understand Hampton Inn’s business model, that franchise is always placed within walking distance of a restaurant (usually a national chain). I don’t know this as fact, but Hilton (the owner of the Hampton Inn brand) would probably not support the ZMC project without the additional equities associated with their brand. If ZMC failed to mention that, then shame on them.
Your safety and neighborhood integrity concerns are noted but at the end of the day, this project does not mean traffic is going to be running down innocent residents or destroying neighborhood integrity.
Point is, we’re all tired increases in our services and taxes. Without support of these type of projects large or small, it’s going to only get worse. There then will be no worries about neighborhood safety or integrity because we’ll all be forced out of our homes.
Well-loved. Like or Dislike: 20 3
Elizabeth – Thank you for enlightening me. The DNT did not so my “facts” were only as factual as the content of the article. Given the omission – What difference does a restaurant make to your argument? If in fact, ZMC were applying to build a “HOTEL” as the article stated (and I doubt it was going to be a “hotel” in the true sense of the word) it would contain a restaurant, as all hotels do. If ZMC is applying to put up another budget “hotel”, motor inn or motel, then a separately operated onsite bar/restaurant would accompany it, like what Howard Johnsons were doing decades ago and what the Premier Inn do in the UK. See Kos Dog’s comment (above).
Do you think the residents of Duluth and everyone passing through are going to beeline it to a casual franchise bar/restaurant attached to a motel for a big night out?,,, oh, and run down every pedestrian in sight? They’d be hard pressed to find anyone walking there in the first place!
Perhaps the real issue here is the City’s lack of planning and tackling the mess in Duluth Hts and on Miller Hill. Roads don’t join up. They meander in a random fashion. There are no curbs and gutters or sidewalks. I’m frankly disgusted with it.
I’d like to think that if ZMC were granted permission to develop the site, the city might be inclined to sort out the nearby intersection and made the necessary street improvements (incl sidewalks) if only a piecemeal attempt to make the area better.
With no hotel/motel or whatever, nothing is going to happen and that really is not a viable option.
Like or Dislike: 18 4
Yes, I believe the neighborhood wants to see a good use for that space – ZMC was the one that told neighbors (after the fact) that a restaurant chain would bring in triple the number of cars a hotel would. I don’t believe that pedestrians walking to the restaurant is the concern. It is the fact that the hotel/restaurant would be located right in the previous buffer zone to the neighborhood and so there would no longer be any kind of a buffer separating heavy commercial (mall, shopping, restaurants, hotels) from the neighborhood. Duluth Heights already has a ton of cut through traffic (which I agree would be hugely cut down if they just put through the connector road that they have talked about for years) – Also, if they would put sidewalks on the main Maple grove road, that would be a big safety plus since that is the busiest road. The fact is that despite knowledge now that these type of hotels often encourage food chain restaurants, THIS HOTEL, did not mention that in frank discussions with the neighborhood – it was slipped in after the neighbors gave their support of the hotel. That is the reason for the neighborhood meetings is to give the neighbors the chance to see & discuss & give input. A major part of that conversation was left out. Take a look at Olive Garden, Texas Roadhouse, there is a ton of cars, lights, traffic. That would be fine as long as there was that buffer between neighborhood and commercial but that isn’t what is proposed here. BTW – I believe that Joshua Avenue, the direct link between Arrowhead and the mall (to stop most of the cut through neighborhood traffic) is slated to be started in 2015 -when and if they get the funds to do so. It is further my understanding that Maple Grove / Joshua is expected to see 8000 cars/day pass that intersection. Still think the neighbors are over-reacting when they see a project that removes the buffer every neighborhood deserves from commercial? Lets face it – there is no busier area in Duluth than the mall area (canal park is second I would guess) but even they have a lift bridge between the neighborhood and commercial.
Like or Dislike: 8 5
I take on board what you’re saying and respect your point of view. That said, the site in question lies in the midst of a commercial corridor and its best use is probably a hotel or apartment house. Have you considered that the restaurant might be incorporated in the hotel?
This conflict is but one of many that has arisen in Dlth Hts / Miller Hill over the decades. Remember Stone Ridge? It would be a derelict gravel pit today if the NIMBYs had their way.
The fact is, the City has been laissez-faire in how that whole Dlth Hts area has developed and this problem has lingered for more than 30 yrs and isn’t going away. It’s no wonder everyone is up in arms everytime something comes down the pike. The residential neighborhood has developed along country roads that haven’t been improved to contemporary conditions. The roads either don’t join up, intersect at odd angles, frequently change classification, lack curbs and gutters, sidewalks, etc. Maple Grove is a major arterial on one side of Miller Trunk and downgrades to a collector on the other. It doesn’t run through to N Arlington and this situation leaves motorists no alternative than to turn onto Eklund and onto Swan Lake to Arrowhead. It’s a mess.
Had the City platted Dlth Hts with the street grid, traffic would be dispersed and/or channeled to a major arterial instead of snakeing through a tangled web of roads.
As for buffers, I think that can be addressed through good planning. If this so-called restaurant is going to be so popular, maybe you should be thinking of how to make it accessible to the residential neighbors instead of “sealing” it off from you. Some sidewalks / cycle tracks or something might induce you to walk or ride your bike there for lunch or dinner.
Like or Dislike: 7 3
There’s no question we need a safe, quick connector between Arrowhead & the Mall (Joshua) and I fully agree that NIMBY has stopped that project for years although it was on the original plans well before many people living along that route bought their homes (in other words- they knew it was more than a possibility and decided to move there/build there anyway) – You mention that this particular property is in a commercial corridor but that is not necessary correct. Yes – it borders a major commercial corridor but it is not “in” it. That is, it is not zoned commercial at all at this point otherwise the folks interested in it would not be going through all the work of getting a zoning change. It currently is the property that buffers that commercial corridor from the Duluth Heights neighborhood. There are multiple other properties that are zoned commercial in the mall area that a hotel could purchase without the zoning change. Again, the neighbors were ok with the hotel idea there and gave their ok based on a hotel and as long as the hotel developer put in place some sidewalks, trees, and did the site to protect that buffer between neighborhood and commercial. It wasn’t until the neighbors found out about additional development plans not mentioned in neighborhood meetings or the zoning request that neighbors pulled their support. All the developer would have had to do is remain true to what they told the neighbors. There are good ways to development – and neighbors want to see something that looks good, is a good fit and still protects the neighborhood and their property values. This is not a case of NIMBY with this property. People are comfortable with development – it was the developer that pulled out when the neighbors didn’t like the idea of the restaurant further moving into the buffer between commercial and neighborhood.
Like or Dislike: 0 7
A jobsworth’s reply, Elizabeth. Sorry but I don’t buy your rhetoric. It has finally become unpopular to be anti-development and you’re hiding behind a facade of pro-development when actually you are clinging to minor technicalities to stop the hotel/motel based on it being across a highway verge from the “corridor” – how many blades of grass separate it? and the unthinkable – that a hotel might, God forbid, have a restaurant! Give me a break!
Like or Dislike: 6 2
Hey Blighty! Lets put a major hotel and restaurant on a lot in your your neighborhood and then invite 8000 cars within a 500 ft of where seniors/families/children/neighbors walk without any buffer – Duluth Heights is NOT IN THE COMMERCIAL CORRIDOR – it borders it – and some sort of a safeguard should be in place to protect the integrity of the neighborhood. It is SELFISH people like you that care only about your little corner of the community instead of what families in other neighborhoods are experiencing. Ever heard of “it takes a village” ? Well that isn’t just referring to raising children – it is about trying to be helpful/understanding/involved/caring about our neighbors or others not just ourselves. Put yourself in another’s shoes before you pass judgement – Good planning = good results. Do you want developers putting up projects that fit the bottom line but alienate the people most affected? Everyone working together and listening can make a much better project for everyone.
Like or Dislike: 1 5
Elizabeth – I live with within 50 yds of a road that carries 10 x that much traffic so don’t presume you know anything about me; least of all when it comes to planning unless you have the qualifications. I do. You are the classic whining NIMBY. Plain and simple. I DO care about the neighborhood and city at large. The site is in clear view of Miller Trunk Hwy and sits among other commercial businesses. Where do you think a more appropriate site for a hotel should be? Anyway, the city is going to rezone the property so you and Gary Krause can pound salt.
There are about 8000 cars going by there now.
The light touch with which the City has handled planning, subdivisions, street layout, etc is evident in the landlocked properties, unjoined streets, skewed intersections and discontinuous road classification that characterizes Dlth Hts. Traffic chaos, conflicts of interest and NIMBY mania is the result.
Like or Dislike: 1 2
If it were any other neighborhood they would have said too bad and its all about progress for the city! There must be some serious influence on the Duluth from this neighborhood considering they convinced the city to make it illegal top cut through the neighborhood from the mall to Arrowhead Road even though you are traveling on a public road!
Like or Dislike: 1 0
Wow! Blightly – you’re kinda an angry guy huh? Don’t get your undies in a bunch fella – it’s a conversation. You professed to “know” me in your post a few back by calling me a “whiny NIMBY” & then balked at my suggestion that you didn’t understand how it felt to live in a high traffic area. You are right, – I don’t know anything about you, and you don’t about me., so don’t judge – this is supposed to be a forum for communication and sharing of thoughts – keep an open mind buddy, you just might learn a little compassion for your fellow Duluthian – whatever neighborhood they live in.
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