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By Dan Rudy 

Making more room at the Inn

 

Submitted Illustration

he building diagram submitted by Southeast Properties to the Planning and Zoning Commission at its March 12 meeting. It illustrates a proposed expansion of the Stikine Inn, adding fill along one section of shoreline and extending the rest over the water line.

As Wrangell looks to future growth, the owners of its largest hotel are likewise looking to expand.

Southeast Properties owner Bill Goodale and Stikine Inn manager Jake Harris have made preliminary appearances at recent assembly, port, and planning and zoning meetings to pitch their idea.

They would like to purchase 27.45 square feet of tidelands adjacent to the hotel property. Once acquired, the inn's owners could then begin expanding the building, adding rooms and ground-level retail space.

Goodale explained to the Borough Assembly last month he was spurred to action by the waterfront development plan being discussed in a pair of sessions held in January and February. The plans under consideration would eventually see the expansion and improvement of the waterfront between the dock and boatyard.

His purpose for the presentations was to let city and borough officials know of the business' plans in advance. Visiting the Planning and Zoning Commission at its March 12 meeting, Southeast Properties formally requested the commission draw up a recommendation for the Assembly.

"This would be vital, obviously, to the expansion of the business," Harris explained to Wrangell's Port Commission at its March 5 meeting. "It's going to be a long project. I've been on this one now nine years."

They will still need to obtain permission from the Army Corps of Engineers, for one thing. "The process is going to take a while," Harris explained. Goodale has estimated the full project should take between three and four years to complete once initiated.

Goodale also anticipates the building portion of the project will involve four local contractors, creating 15 construction jobs. Another six full-time positions would be added to the hotel; Harris currently estimates it employs 45 to 50 full- and part-time workers during the summer.

With more rooms, Harris explained the city would be better able to host larger conferences and events, as well as bring in extra revenue during the busy summer months. The expansion would also contribute to added sales, bed and property tax revenues.

The building will stay at its same height of three stories and would add 28 to 30 rooms.

Harris explained they will be pursuing a more modern design for the addition, while incorporating a similar coloring to the current building. Additional parking to the north would also be figured into the design.

A portion of the area being considered would include the current arrangement of outdoor kiosks that greet visitors disembarking at the city dock, which would be removed. In its stead, a series of small storefronts would be added to the enlarged building, with an open-air option for when the weather is pleasant. Goodale said accommodations would also be made allowing children to continue selling garnets to dockside tourists.

As envisioned, the expansion would also accommodate the continuation of a heritage walk proposed during last month's waterfront master planning session. An easement would be provided to the borough in front of the hotel that would allow a route to be continued along Stikine Avenue.

Citing upfront costs, Southeast Properties' has requested a waiver of some requirements to purchase city land, such as the Public Auction and Bid Process.

"We don't want to go through the process, spend the money and then have to bid on what we developed," the request reads.

Planning and Zoning commissioners seemed impressed with the proposal. Chairing the commission, Terri Henson said she liked the possibilities such an expansion would create for holding events at the Nolan Center, which she also directs.

At this point Goodale will need to submit a formal application to the Borough, which will then be examined by Ports before being taken to a further stage.

 

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