2013-02-08 / News

Council Offers To Purchase Development Rights of Arnold Dock

The Mackinac Island City Council is offering the buy the development rights to the property at the head of the Arnold Dock for 100 rental bicycle licenses. Coming out of its fourth closed meeting on the subject Wednesday evening, February 6, the council voted to authorize Mayor Margaret Doud to sign an option agreement to acquire a deed restriction, which would not allow any future development on that property.

The property is owned by Main Dock 7271 LLC, owned jointly by Melanie Libby and Ira Green, who purchased it from Union Terminal Piers owner Jim Wynn. In December, they submitted plans to build there a new 30-room, three-story hotel called the Main Dock Inn, stretching along the sidewalk from the Thunderbird Gift Shop to, and including, the Ryba’s Fudge Shop and Indian Drum buildings. The development easement being sought by the city will not include the two existing buildings, but will include the property between them and the Thunderbird, including Mackinac Cycle, which is owned by Ms. Libby and Carl Redder.

The number in Main Dock 7271 is the street address of the property, she said.

The agreement had not been signed by the property owners as the Town Crier went to press Thursday, February 7, but city attorney Tom Evashevski said the deal is contingent on the city providing the company with 100 additional rental licenses to Mackinac Cycle.

Mr. Green and Ms. Libby will continue own the Main Dock 7271 property, but Ms. Libby said she and Mr. Redder would own the new rental licenses, not Mr. Green.

There is no guarantee the city will issue the 100 licenses, Mr. Evashevski said, and if it cannot do so, the deal will be called off. If it does issue the licenses, and, down the road, the city does something to diminish their value, it would have to pay Main Dock 7271 $2 million to continue to hold the deed restriction.

Diminished value, Mr. Evashevski said, could be something like flooding the market with additional rental licenses, although he said there is no intention to halt distribution to other parties.

Issuing the licenses, apparently, is where the city council plans to air the project with the public. It developed this deal during about 3.5 hours of closed door deliberations, although conversations may have strayed to other properties with a view of the water, such as the Coal Dock.

While the council is still the authority to issue rental licenses, Mr. Evashevski suggested it will want a consensus of public opinion on the matter. If residents feel strongly that the proposed hotel would impede the view of the water and present a distracting first impression to tourists getting off the boat, it could encourage the city to proceed.

At any rate, he said, “We would consider issuing the additional licenses under our existing process.”

Ms. Libby said she plans to submit plans for a smaller hotel on the property occupied by the Indian Drum and fudge shop building, but that project does not have anything to do with the agreement now on the table.

She said she was proud of the Main Dock Inn proposal submitted in December.

“I didn’t expect the reaction” it received from the community, she said, and wanted to find some middle ground, establish a better relationship we’re hoping to build with the city.”

“It was a good-will gesture,” she said of the proposed deed restriction, with “no cost to the city. We will compromise and give up the rights, because they really feel strongly about” maintaining the view.

She said she sees a need for more licenses at the Mackinac Cycle location, and feels the option, if executed, will serve both the visitor seeking rental bicycles and the city’s desire to keep an open view to the dock and water.

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