REAL ESTATE: Bay Harbor home, condo sales ahead of projections – Hotel will be fully operational May 1

As of March 1, sales were five to six years ahead of projections after $125 million worth of property and units were sold in 1998 and over $80 million in 1997. When fully developed, the Bay Harbor development will have about 1,000 living units.

The $24 million Inn at Bay Harbor has been welcoming guests for a few months already. The first phase of 130 rooms is nearly complete and the hotel will be fully operational by May 1. The 200,000 square-foot, six-floor facility is owned and operated by Boyne USA.

“We’re putting the final touches on the aesthetics of the rooms and as the weather clears, we’ll be completing the outdoor landscaping,” said Michael Choiniere, director of sales and marketing for Boyne USA. There will also be a croquet lawn, as well as an outdoor chess game with figurines three feet tall.

Other phases, including plans to add 60 to 70 rooms on the east and west wings, could be at least two years down the road, Choiniere said. Work is also underway on a ballroom on the sixth floor with verandas on both sides and breathtaking views.

“It will undoubtedly be the most beautiful ballroom in all the Midwest,” he said, adding that it will be available for events later this year.

The Inn also offers a state-of-the-art conference center with 10 meeting rooms, ideal for groups from 15 to 270. Almost all of the Inn’s individual penthouses and suites have been sold through a rent/share program, which totals some $25 million in purchased real estate. While owners can use the rooms themselves, they usually buy them for the investment, which is a 50-50 split between Boyne and the owner.

The main public areas of the 1,100-acre Bay Harbor development are nearing completion and getting ready for a lot of visitors this summer.

A “ribbon cutting” ceremony for the Bay Harbor Marina District is slated for July 3, to be followed by a public opening a week or so later, said Bay Harbor marketing director Bob Fell. The 160,000 square-foot district will consist of boutiques, galleries, restaurants and private residences in three different buildings: the Maritime Building, the Old Fishing Lodge and the Harbormaster Building.

The district’s “feel” is a revitalization of the past when merchant sailors made their living on the Great Lakes and life centered around the heart of the town.

Private residences occupy the upper floors of the Marina District’s four- and five-story buildings. The condo units include 1,100 to 2,000 square-foot suites and 5,000 square-foot penthouses, with prices starting around $500,000.

“They are for a certain kind of buyer who likes to be where the action is,” explained Fell.

There are 58 units in all and half have already been sold. Now coming into the busy springtime selling season, he anticipates having the majority sold by the district’s opening.

Office space was originally part of the plan for these upper units, but Fell said there was such a demand for residential space that the offices were scratched from the plans.

Tenants in the district so far include: Compass Interiors, Federico’s Design Jewelers of Traverse City, Masterpiece Gallery, Nautical Works, Northern Seas Gallery, Frost Shoes of Ann Arbor, Bay Harbor Logo Shop, Northern Sights Eyewear, The Original Pancake House, Latitude, the Detroit-area Epoch Restaurant Group’s newest eatery and the Galley Gourmet (market).

Tenants are still being sought for the following categories: men’s and women’s apparel, children’s wear and toys, salon and spa, books/newspapers and a sportsman shop.

An event-filled summer is on tap for the Marina District. There will be a farmers market every Saturday and Bay Harbor officials are working with merchants to develop a list of summer events. Already on the calendar is an antique car show in July, which will be a charity event for Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey. BIZNEWS