Excelsior is one step closer to having a hotel in town. Located at the corner of Water Street and Lake Street, will have 58 rooms, a restaurant with outdoor seating, retail space and ball room on the top level.
The unanimously approved the concept plan on Monday. Two other steps before the plans become finalized—approval of the general and final plans—will instead occur in one step.
Resident Linda Putnam told the council that she wanted Excelsior to be the first city on Lake Minnetonka to have a hotel.
“The hotel should be beautiful,” she said.
Although many details of the hotel will not be decided until the general plan, documents from the developer describe the hotel as having a mainly brick and stone exterior with copper trim and wood clad windows and doors. Architect Neil Weber described the design as simple, yet detailed.
Charlie James, whose family owns the property, said that there will be rooftop gardens and each room will have a balcony. He hopes that the hotel will bring more visitors to the business district and be a source of pride for the community.
At 55 feet, 10 inches, the hotel will be 20 feet above the 35-foot height limit set for buildings on Water Street. To lessen the street-level view of the hotel’s size, the hotel will be positioned back from the street—with each floor level positioned further back than the previous level.
“The building recedes back and doesn’t seem as massive as it would if it were right at the street,” Weber, the architect, said.
Councilwoman Jennifer Caron expressed opposition to the building’s height. Caron called Excelsior unique and said that she doesn’t want to see every site become over-developed. She also believes, however, that a hotel should be large.
“A hotel should have a grand presence,” Caron said. “It should be a landmark structure.”
Other plans include meeting with the to discuss a proposed storm water management system that would treat run off before it enters Lake Minnetonka, Weber said. The system also could potentially treat run off from nearby sites.
Council members and residents wondered if there is actually a market for a hotel in Excelsior. Resident Elmer Schoon asked if he would be able to invite family members to stay at the hotel when they came to visit.
“We need to have realistic views of affordability,” he said.
Hotel rooms will vary in price, James said, and when customers want to book a room, he hopes to allow them to see the price of each room. He believes that there will be price points that everyone can afford.
Resident Heather Johnson wondered what use the hotel could have in 100 years.
“Is this a good development for this site?” she said.
Lucille Crow, a former Excelsior mayor, disagreed, saying that she thought the hotel is perfect for the site that she called “prime commercial real estate.”
Although resident John Monson had several questions, he also thought that the proposed site would be a good fit.
Weber added that they plan to have a pedestrian-friendly design for the hotel. Councilmen Greg Miller suggested they consider widening the sidewalks at the site and paving the cross walk with brick.
Traffic and parking circulation—the hotel will have underground and main level parking—came up as an issue during the meeting, and the council requested an updated traffic study. Weber showed an updated plan of ways to address parking circulation. He emphasized that the presented plans are just a concept and that he is confident that the right people can solve the issues.
As part of the general and final plan process, they will need to also address how they will handle the noise level.
Council members Miller and Caron also advised the developer to pay close attention to the Heritage Preservation Commission’s recommendations.
Caron called them the gatekeepers of character.