October 21, 2014

Tribe unveils plans for massive sporting goods store, puts hotel on hold indefinitely

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STANDISH TOWNSHIP — There’s good news and bad news for Arenac County residents looking forward to the jobs and opportunities that would accompany new developments – a hotel, restaurant and sporting goods store – proposed by the Saginaw-Chippewa Indian Tribe and its economic entity the Migizi Corporation.

Migizi CEO Jim Coleman announced the group will move forward on a new, larger Eagle Valley Outfitters retail store, amassing 50,000 square feet directly to the East of the current shop located inside of the Saganing Sagamok Shell, which, he added, is about 2,000 square feet.

“Our goal is to start construction in the spring,” said Migizi Business Development Analyst Lisa Darnell.

“This will be our prototype,” Coleman added. “We’re going to franchise this throughout America.”

SCIT Public Relations Manager Frank Cloutier said the store is anticipated to create about 40-50 jobs, half part-time and half full-time, with several different opportunities for work beyond run of the mill retail jobs, because of all the specialty areas within the store.

According to Coleman, the store will include equipment for hunting, camping, fishing, firearms, archery, clothing and accessories, boats, motor sports and a service center. It will offer jobs such as gunsmiths, firing range operators and mechanics within its walls, as well.

“We’re going to have seven indoor pistol ranges,” Coleman said. “We’re going to be one of the only stores in the country to have an indoor rifle range.”

The store will also include a public programming area to offer classes in hunters’ safety and concealed weapons permits.

And visually, Coleman said authentic photos and pictures of members of the Tribe hunting and fishing will adorn the store.

“We want to integrate the Tribe’s culture and Tribal membership into the store,” Coleman said.

When all is said and done, the Tribe has high hopes for the sporting goods mega-store.

“That’s going to make that area of the county a premiere area,” Cloutier said.

Before construction begins next spring, Darnell said the storage shed connected to Eagle Valley Outfitters’ present location would be used to offer more sporting goods items. She said this new, temporary area should be ready by the opening day of rifle season.

Hotel construction postponed indefinitely

Although a deal was reached between Standish City Council and the Migizi Corporation for reduced water rates to provide city utilities to a proposed 80-room hotel, a legal opinion sought out by city council currently has permitted any further steps on the development, as attorneys from both sides have continued to dispute whether or not the Saganing Reservation is entitled to pay lower rates than other customers.

“What it looks like, from our attorney’s opinion, is that the rate is an issue,” said Standish City Manager Mike Moran. “Because of the complexities of the law relating to municipal water and sewer rates, we turned it over to the attorneys to evaluate and discuss and eventually give us their opinion.

“I still feel that it’s open for discussion,” Moran added. “I still need to sit down with them (Migizi) and come to a conclusion.”

But Migizi representatives are moving forward on other developments out of the area.

“We’ve taken that hotel project that we planned for the Standish area and pretty much put it on the back burner indefinitely,” Coleman said. “We have to focus on where the opportunities are. … We’ve kind of refocused back to the Mount Pleasant area from the Standish area.”

“The city accepted our offer on May 22,” Darnell added. “Then the attorneys got involved and the city’s been back pedaling ever since.”

Coleman said that the proposed hotel, which was going to be a prototype for a franchise, would now be constructed in Mount Pleasant, along with a water park and RV park.

But nearby, in Pinconning, Migizi may be able to find the resources it needs to continue with the project when it chooses to do so.

“We have the ability to tap into municipal water in the Bay County system,” Cloutier said. He added that Pinconning Township is expanding its wastewater utilities, in part with two-percent funds from the Tribe, to be feasible for commercial volume. It would also extend the utilities to the Arenac County line.

“What we have to weigh is do we abandon our plans in Standish and move down to Pinconning,” Coleman said.

The hotel was estimated to create 30 – 40 jobs and was phase one in a two-phase development approach Migizi was planning. It was to be followed by a restaurant pad near the I-75/M-13 corridor.

City rates for water and sewer are $6.70 per 1,000 gallons of water and $3.30 per 1,000 gallons of sewer, with an additional sewer debt payment of $.75.

The final proposal by Migizi, accepted in May, was $5 for 1,000 gallons of water and $2.75 for 1,000 gallons of sewer, with a $.20 payment for sewer debt.

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