City of Grand Marais rezones two business park lots for future residential housing development
city of Grand Marais

City of Grand Marais rezones two business park lots for future residential housing development

Housing and potential development projects have recently been at the forefront of community conversations and local government meetings.

During the latest city council meeting on Oct. 11, city council members approved an ordinance to rezone two Cedar Grove Business Park lots from business development to residential R-1. The rezoning is intended for a potential housing project with the Housing Redevelopment Authority (HRA). 

The two lots identified are Lot 1 Block 3 and Lot 2 Block 3, situated along the Gunflint Trail, directly across from the Law Enforcement Center and Highway Department buildings. 


In late July, the Economic Development Authority (EDA) discussed rezoning the two lots for a potential housing project and began the proposal process with the city shortly after that. The HRA assisted the EDA in formulating a petition for zone district map amendment. During the July 18 EDA meeting, President Steve Surbaugh said the EDA is proposing to sell the two lots to the HRA. The proposed use of the two lots has been floated as a senior housing project or assisted living site in the past. 

The rezoning was first approved by the city planning and zoning committee during the Oct. 4 meeting before final approval by the city council on Oct.11. 

Following the Oct. 11 city council meeting, Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson said there were no immediate housing development plans at this time, and the city council simply rezoned the two lots to allow for future possibilities. “This is just the first step for rezoning,” Benson said. “So someone could start some planning. We’ll see how that goes.”

State Historic Preservation Office

David Mather, the National Register Archaeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office, attended the Oct. 11 city council meeting to discuss two projects with the city of Grand Marais. 

The two projects include a proposed statewide survey and a National Register Nomination for the Grand Marais harbor. Mather met with city officials earlier this year to start the conversation and gauge interest. The statewide survey would entail identifying potential sites that would provide additional information and insights into the archeological past of the area. “They start looking at maps and property records,” Benson said. “To draw an idea of this (area) to learn more information first about our history.”

If a site is identified to have valuable archeological information, the State Historic Preservation Office will conduct digging or excavation operations. The proposed survey will take place on public land and not include private land. However, Mather said in the presentation that property owners are invited to participate in the survey. 

The second project is designating the Grand Marais harbor as a historic district. The designation would not include private property and, outside of potentially including Bear Tree Park, would strictly have the harbor. 

Benson said conversations will continue with the State Historic Preservation Office in the coming months, and no concrete plans are in the immediate future. “They’ll have to go back and do their work and get their report ready and set it up for nomination,” Benson said. “Then they’ll come back and let us know.” 

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson following the Oct. 11 city council meeting. Audio from the interview is below.