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Lakeside’s bank owner intends to keep hotel open

BARAGA – Superior National Bank and Trust has officially taken ownership of the Baraga Lakeside Inn after foreclosing on its mortgage, and employees can feel safe in their jobs for now.

John Farquhar, SNB’s chief credit officer, said in a release the bank is placing the hotel for sale with Hospitality Real Estate Counselors of Memphis, Tennessee. It is contracting with Veridea, a Marquette real estate development and hotel management company, to oversee the hotel and its Lakeside Restaurant and Lounge until it is sold.

“While we do not normally continue to operate a business after foreclosure, it’s in the best interest of our community and the inn’s employees for this property to remain up and running until a suitable buyer can be found,” Farquhar said.

Charles Holsworth, the vice president of Veridea’s hospitality division, said in a phone interview his company had a team visiting the Lakeside this week to analyze the situation there, and he couldn’t comment on potential changes until the team reported. Staffing levels would be part of that analysis, he said, but the intention is to retain all employees and current management.

“We don’t want to replace the manager,” he said. “We want to come alongside the Baraga team and provide support and new resources for staff that are in place.”

Holsworth said the goal is to make the 68-room Lakeside a consistently profitable business for the current owners and whoever may buy the hotel, which already offers some advantages.

“We’re very excited,” he said. “They’ve done a great job maintaining it, and it’s a beautiful location.”

There will be one change immediately, according to the release – the restaurant and lounge are no longer serving liquor.

Farquhar did not return calls regarding what the asking price might be for the hotel, and it’s not yet posted among the listings on Hospitality Real Estate’s site, though most of the listings there don’t state a price, either.

SNB placed a $1.66 million minimum bid on the property in a sheriff’s sale for the property in June, meaning the original owners had to pay that back or lose the property. In 2014, when the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community was considering the Lakeside as the site of a new casino, they offered a package worth about $2.6 million for the property before a tribal referendum voted down the project.