City planning and zoning give green light to mixed-use commercial building, proceeds to city council for approval
WTIP file photo

City planning and zoning give green light to mixed-use commercial building, proceeds to city council for approval

The City Planning and Zoning Commission met on Jan. 3 to review a request for a conditional use permit to build a 10,000 sq. foot mixed-use commercial building in downtown Grand Marais. 

The owner of Mayhew Inn in Grand Marais, Joel Saint John, plans to construct the building consisting of retail, a restaurant, an event center, and lodging on the vacant lots next to Sven & Ole’s, formerly the home of White Pine North, the Crooked Spoon Cafe, and Picnic & Pine. The three businesses burned down in April of 2020. 

At the start of the meeting, Saint John told the commission, “We’re here to present a very preliminary plan on a mixed-use business development on properties that we own.” He added, ”We’ve got a good working concept here on how we want to present and bring to Grand Marais a good mix of businesses that we feel are in need after the fires of 2020.”

Saint John was accompanied by Mike Fisher, the architecture and engineering project lead with LHB, an engineering, architecture, and planning firm serving Minnesota and Wisconsin. The city of Grand Marais has worked with LHB on numerous construction projects in previous years. 

While the preliminary design plans were compiled by Larry J. Boen of Osten Boen Designs, LHB will lead the engineering and architectural project for the proposed mixed-use building. During the meeting, Fisher said although the preliminary design plans included within the conditional use permit application provide a great foundation and outline of the proposed building, he guarantees there will be changes to the exterior and interior design and layout.

“We got to make it all meet code and all of those things,” Fisher said. “That will evolve. So what you see here is not going to be what the final looks like.”

Approximately 15 people attended the meeting in person at the city hall chambers. Three members of the public spoke during the meeting to express their support for the project or to ask questions. Howard Hedstrom and Tim Kennedy voiced their support for the project. The nearby Joy & Company owner, Jill Terrill, inquired about the shared alley for truck delivery access.

St. John said officials from the Economic Development Authority (EDA) and Visit Cook County were in attendance to show their support for the project. 

“We’re excited to bring sort of new life to that block where there was a lot of losses four years ago,” he said.  

After the city planning & zoning commission members asked additional questions relating to trash, alley uses, and source of building heat, the commission members unanimously voted to approve the conditional use permit. It will now head to the city council for final approval. 

Find the full Jan. 3 city planning & zoning meeting here