Wayzata residents may breathe a collective sigh of relief this summer, when five years of ongoing construction on the largest redevelopment project in the city’s history finally comes to an end.
Construction on The Landing Hotel is slated to be finished in June, the fifth and final city block in a $342 million project and the first hotel on Lake Minnetonka in more than 50 years.
The 14.5-acre project, the Promenade of Wayzata, broke ground in June 2012. The urban-inspired, high-density project has altered the city’s landscape, filling five blocks on the eastern edge of downtown off Lake Street and Superior Boulevard.
“We’re excited about reaching that milestone,” said John Mehrkens of Presbyterian Homes, the master developer for the project. “It’s been a long process and the community has been incredibly patient. There’s a calm and excitement that things may be returning to normal.”
At the peak of construction several cranes and 350 workers were on the site, often loudly driving 2,800 pilings into the ground to anchor buildings on the swampy site. Mehrkens said it was likely the worst soil conditions they’ve experienced, requiring the equivalent of 63 miles of pipes — likely more than Target Field, which by comparison cost $555 million.
The Promenade of Wayzata replaces Bay Center Mall, a 1960s-era shopping center with sprawling parking lots. The largest redevelopment project for the city in scale, size and investment, it was controversial when a divided City Council approved it in 2008.
Some residents opposed it for its size and scale. But city officials said it would create a mass of retail, address housing needs and provide a walkable area that one said would become “the most lavish pedestrian environment in all the Twin Cities.”
“It was a blighted property [that was] underutilized,” City Manager Jeff Dahl said.
Construction stalled for two years during the tail end of the Great Recession, starting in 2012. Now public sentiment may have shifted, said Steve Bohl, the developer of the hotel and a condo building called the Regatta.
“Now that we’re here, a majority of the people have accepted it and most are delighted and excited,” he said.
The five blocks include 326 units of senior housing — from apartments to assisted living, memory care and nursing home units — 88 condos and 26 apartments, 119,000-square-feet of retail, and parking.
The final block, started in 2015, is a five-story $65 million building that houses the 92-room hotel, a spa, retail, a restaurant — Nine TwentyFive — and 30 condos from $825,000 up to $4 million for one with lake views.
Nearby residents quickly snatched up condos; one even imported Italian marble. For many, it’s their second or third home, Bohl said.
“It’s never happened in the Twin Cities,” he said. “It’s just a really unique market.”
So far, about 900 hotel rooms have been booked, Bohl said, with an average rate of $220; the high-end presidential suite goes for $1,100 a night. Bohl said the hotel, the first on the lake in decades, will be managed by New England-based Hay Creek Hotels and is expected to draw 30,000 visitors a year from wedding guests to business travelers. An adjacent “great lawn” will open this summer and be used for events.
“It’s certainly changed the city,” Mayor Ken Willcox said. “But it’s given us a lot of amenities we otherwise would not have ... and it’s brought a lot of new residents to the town.”
Tax-increment financing for the project will help finance the city’s first public parking ramp. The 150 workers on site are expected to be done by the building’s opening on June 8, with a ribbon-cutting June 16.
It will be a big change for Wayzata after years of construction there and on nearby Bushaway Road.
“It’s been a great journey,” Mehrkens said. “But we’re very pleased to be at the finish line.”