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Plans for controversial Duluth hotel still on hold – maybe for good

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Plans to build a nine-story hotel on Duluth's Park Point, a scenic stretch of beachy shorefront, have hit a stalemate, possibly dooming the project.

That's what the Duluth News Tribune is reporting, saying project delays have resulted in the expiration of a special use permit that would have allowed a developer to build the largest hotel ever – with some 90 rooms planned – on what the paper says is the "longest freshwater sand spit in the world."

The News Tribune tallies the follies of developer Joel Johnson, who has come up with at least two versions and two locations for the hotel, which would overlook a marina he owns.

In addition to resistance from the city council and residents of the point, Johnson concedes to the paper that he's had trouble securing investing for what he deems to be a $22 million project.

“Mr. Johnson might have been able to build there at a lower financial cost for him, but the cost to the community would have been impossible to describe,” one council member tells the paper. “It would have destroyed the neighborhood.”

All the delays and expirations may end up killing the project, but Johnson, says the paper, is undeterred and isn’t walking away from plans to build a hotel.

“We’re still plugging away,” he says.

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