City seeks new hotel developer

With a previous effort to build a hotel in Pine City apparently dead in the water, city officials are moving forward to try to attract other hotel developers to the city.

The city has released a request for proposals from hotel developers with experience in hotel development in rural communities and with a quality regional or national brand name.

Pine City Community Development Director Lezlie Sauter said the city will help the developers find a property that fits their needs.

“It’s up to the developer where they want to go, but there are some particular parcels that are conducive to a good hotel, and that’s close to the freeway,” Sauter said.

The city hopes to attract a hotel project that would include:

• Up to 51 rooms

• Business center

• Banquet space to accommodate more than 25 people

• Pool and fitness room

• Rate range $99.99 - $121.68

Previous project

The city had been working with Pine City Hotel Investors, LLC/Turner Properties, LLC since 2017 to put a Grandstay hotel in Pine City. However, the developers allowed the permits to expire.

“When you come to a city and get approval for a development site plan you have 180 days to pull a permit,” Sauter explained. “Then once you’ve applied for a permit you have 180 days to get all the information to the building official to approve your building permit. They weren’t able to meet those deadlines.”

Sauter said the developers had signed a purchase agreement with the current property owners, but were not able to close that deal.

“We don’t think the project will ever move forward,” she said. “We want to find somebody who can get a project to go forward.”

Starting over

“It’s really frustrating to have to start over,” said Pine City Mayor Carl Pederson. “I think we worked really hard with the developer who expressed – for so long – that they were going to bring a hotel to our community.

“I would say first we’ve done as much as we could to help this happen and not create barriers,” he continued. “The bottom line is that’s where it fell apart at the end – the financing, the lack of money to construct it.  We’re at a point now where they can certainly submit a proposal, but we have no commitment with them. And we certainly are wanting to solicit other developers. It’s still needed in our town.”

Pederson noted that the city has invested in studies to demonstrate that a hotel would be a profitable project. In 2016, the Pine City Economic Development Authority engaged with Growth Services Group to conduct a hotel market feasibility study for the Pine City area. Then in 2018, the Pine City EDA updated the hotel market feasibility study to show continued support for a hotel project in Pine City.

The city’s request for proposals includes a statement from a local small business manager: “Pine City is a unique community with a lot of outdoor living and many local events that require good accommodations, but there just aren’t any good ones currently. We desperately need a quality hotel, not just budget options. Pine City is missing that stand out hotel to capture the lost guest that is leaving to stay in surrounding markets.”

“We’ll have to wait and see how it goes, but we’ll keep pushing to get another developer in here,” Pederson said.  “Whatever I can do to support that, that’s where I’m at.”

Project proposals are due to city hall by 3 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 21. The complete RFP requirements can be found on the Pine City website at https://pinecity.govoffice.com/vertical/sites/%7B6C78F918-835C-4B30-A7AF-EAF471BF7BB3%7D/uploads/Hotel_Developer_RFP.pdf

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