Boutique hotel proposed in Uptown

A development group has proposed a boutique hotel and condominium complex for a portion of Holmes Avenue between Lake Street and 31st Avenue.

Investor Curt Gunsbury and officials from Minneapolis-based U+B Architecture & Design met with community members at a recent East Calhoun Community Association (ECCO) meeting to discuss potential designs for the structure and get feedback.

Gunsbury’s plans call for either an eight-floor hotel spanning three lots or a seven-floor hotel built across five lots. The height is the minimum needed to be financially successful, he said. All of the lots Gunsbury is looking to purchase have willing sellers, he said.

The building would feature 80 to 90 hotel rooms selling at $130 a night and 10 to 24 “high-end” condominiums, Gunsbury said. Between 90 and 115 parking spaces could be included, but U+B Principal Mark Burgess said those are very early estimates.

The entire project is in its infancy, but Gunsbury wanted to hear area residents’ thoughts on his vision. He said the structure, which would be named Hotel Uptown, is something the area lacks and needs. The nearby restaurants, lakes and other attractions would make it an ideal place for visitors to stay, he said.

“Basically, it’s a great ticket to get to a lot of places without driving your car around,” he said.

Residents from CARAG, ECCO and elsewhere raised a bounty of concerns about the hotel, though most were open to the idea.

Sandy Thometz, who lives at 3100 Holmes, said there could be far worse alternatives to a hotel going up in the lots, but she was not excited about having a seven- or eight-story building near her house.

“It will be very bad for my property value,” Thometz said. “It’s definitely going to impact my house. It’s a huge thing.”

Other residents were concerned about the views in and near Uptown, increased congestion from hotel patrons and the possibility of Uptown evolving into an entertainment district.

“When I come home, I come home,” said Sharon Cornejo, who lives at 3039 Humboldt. “I’m not a venue.”

Howard Verson, president of the Calhoun Area Residents Action Group, said a hotel could bring crime and “big city issues” to Uptown and the big building’s presence, regardless of how it looked, would be felt throughout the area.

“It’s like a big bear following you down the street,” Verson said. “You feel it, and Uptown is going to feel this.”

Burgess said the overall height of the building would be between 87 and 95 feet – not too much higher than the Edgewater’s roughly 83-foot stance.

Residents also talked about possible benefits of a hotel, including more customers for local businesses and increased diversity, the result of attracting faraway visitors.

Gunsbury would like to create plans for the building this summer, submit plans to the city in late summer, begin construction next spring and open in the spring of 2008.

Jake Weyer can be reached at jweyer@mnpubs.com and 436-4367.