2017-06-22 / Front Page

Park rejects offers for Sleeping Bear Inn

$1.3 million to renovate
By Alan Campbell
Of The Enterprise staff


TWO PROPOSALS for the future use of the Sleeping Bear Inn of Glen Haven have been denied. The National Park Service is looking into investing money in the renovation project. TWO PROPOSALS for the future use of the Sleeping Bear Inn of Glen Haven have been denied. The National Park Service is looking into investing money in the renovation project. There’s going to be room at the inn for quite awhile, but no place to stay.

That wasn’t the National Park Service’s intention.

Both proposals submitted by privately owned companies to rehabilitate the Sleeping Bear Inn in Glen Haven to its original use have been rejected, leaving Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore officials to ponder upon their next step.

“We were hopeful,” said Lakeshore assistant superintendent Tom Ulrich. “And we still are, but it isn’t going to happen quite as soon as we wanted.”

Hundreds of people toured the inn during the 100th birthday celebration of the Park Service in 2017 on one of the rare days that the building was open to the public.


VISITORS DURING the 100th birthday of the National Park Service line the state highway in Glen Haven for an opportunity to tour the Sleeping Bear Inn. VISITORS DURING the 100th birthday of the National Park Service line the state highway in Glen Haven for an opportunity to tour the Sleeping Bear Inn. Ulrich said two would-be vendors submitted proposals in the fall to renovate the inn according to Department of Interior standards, which required restoring the structure to its historical form. The government estimated that more than $1.3 million would be required to create 12 rooms that could be rented to the public.

The inn, which remains the iconic center of the Glen Haven historic district, encompasses 5,000 square feet including the basement.

The structure is solid, Ulrich said.

“We have kept a good roof and exterior on it. The exterior envelope is good. But pretty much everything else needs to be done,” he added.

The National Park Service is not releasing the proposals, prompting the Leelanau Enterprise to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the documents.

Ulrich said that he had not seen the proposals, either, but did learn some of their details through a phone conversation with staff at the Omaha office of the Department of the Interior. He said the people behind the proposals were not from Leelanau County.

“From what I know, both were planning to run it as an inn, and neither had a full restaurant planned but both had some type of food provisions for their guests such as breakfast. Neither of them to my knowledge are local,” he said.

Those evaluating the proposals felt they were not economically viable, Ulrich continued, which might lead the Lakeshore to invest funds to begin restoration to lower the capital investment required of a vendor.

“You don’t want to gut the interior and completely change the floor plan and footprint. That’s part of the historic structure ... but we can look at the utilities and things such as heating and air condition. Where do we start to nibble away at the capital investment?” he asked.

Lakeshore Chief Ranger Phil Akers, who has been overseeing the project locally, isn’t hopeful for a quick turnaround.

“If we decide to invest a lot of money, then we will put out another request for proposals. It could take several years before that happens,” he said.

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