MARQUETTE - A plan to purchase and refurbish the former Northwoods Supper Club into a commercial dog kennel will be considered by the Marquette Township Planning Commission next month.
At its Dec. 4 meeting, project developers Steve and Wendy Beach of Marquette are scheduled to seek zoning compliance for the project. A special use permit would be required for the proposed Northwoods Dog Lodge. Township planning staff said they believe the sale of the property will be contingent upon zoning approval.
"The proposed reuse of this structure is innovative and relevant," township planner Jason McCarthy said. "The old Northwoods Supper Club has sat vacant for some time. We are pleased to know that the Beaches have a vision for the property and, of course, as the planner of the township, it's always exciting to see a vacant property be revitalized."
The Northwoods Restaurant was built in the 1930s and later expanded. The well-known area business closed and the contents were sold at auction in 2007. (Journal photo by Adelle Whitefoot)
At a meeting Wednesday night, the planning commission received a brief preview of the project.
"I just think it's nice to see a creative use of that building because it's a landmark building," planning commission Chairwoman Ellen Sargent said. "I think it's a neat idea."
Planning commission member Judy Boyle agreed.
"It's a really neat building and it's been there for so long," Boyle said. "You hate to see it deteriorate into nothing."
The Northwoods was built in the 1930s by the Klumb family and later expanded. In 2007, the business closed and the furnishings were sold at auction. An initial plan by owner Dan Torres was to convert the structure to condominiums.
"We're business people who also love dogs. I think it's really important that the community knows that," Wendy Beach said. "We're professionals and this will be a respected use, hopefully, of the Northwoods. I'm from the U.P. I know of this building. We purposely put the name in the name to keep the aura."
The project would use two acres of the eight-acre property.
"They are proposing to use the existing footprint," McCarthy said.
A draft summary business plan for the project said the lodge, located at 260 Northwoods Drive, would provide "an upscale, trusted, friendly, clean and safe environment for dog owners to take their dogs for daycare, boarding, grooming and training all in one easily accessible, convenient location."
The Beaches also plan to lease space to "ideally compatible businesses to support fluctuating revenue streams and keep the business operating to become an important and active part of the region's economy and community."
The plan said the lodge location is "quiet, comfortable, warm and cheery, with plenty of space, light and indoor and outdoor play areas. The lodge would offer on-site groomers, trainers, boarding and daycare services.
"Our goal is to provide a place we would (and will) entrust our own furry family members with great experiences which enhance their lives and the lives of their pet parents," the Beaches said in the plan. "Our focus will be to create long-standing relationships with our community members as well as provide excellent hospitality for short- and long-term visitors to our area for events, shopping, hospital stays and outdoor adventure."
Improvement costs will total $110,080, according to the plan. Two acres around the 15,000 square-foot lodge would be fenced in and used for a monitored pet play area. The entire property totals eight acres.
"The current condition of the facility, having been gutted to prepare for rehabilitation to other purposes, is a very good clean slate for our open space indoor dog daycare areas," the plan stated. "The lighting and natural setting also fit our purposes perfectly."
In an expected timeline for services, the business plan indicates the business would anticipate having daycare for up to 45 dogs by February, with that number increasing to 60 by next November if demand requires. By November 2015, the lodge could accommodate 75 dogs if necessary.
There would be parking next to the facility and potentially across the road.
"If excited barking breaks out, staff will usher the dogs back inside where they can continue to romp and play in the fun indoor playpark with 8-foot cement block walls to block sound from the surrounding areas," the plan said.
Boyle complimented Wendy Beach on the business plan.
"It is so encompassing of everything and the pictures and just what you put into it, I mean it didn't leave anything to the imagination," Boyle said. "It's great."
Sargent added: "If the site plan is anything like the business plan, I'm sure it will be a joy to look at."
McCarthy explained the "special use permit process just allows the planning commission to take a use that's not permitted by right in the general business zoning district and apply some conditions to it."
According to the business plan, Steve Beach would be the chief executive officer with his duties including construction management and maintenance, strategic planning and general management. Wendy Beach would be the director. Her duties would include operations planning and execution, hiring staff, managing budget, marketing, advertising and community and customer relations.
"It's exciting to see young entrepreneurs find ways to create a niche in our community and we look forward to working with them and thank them for choosing to develop in Marquette Township," McCarthy said.
Beach said the couple is "excited to be part of the business community and part of the community here."
John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is email@example.com