Mackinac Island Hotel Dispute Goes To Lansing Review Board

Nov 15, 2013

Architectural drawing of the proposed Main Dock Inn.
Credit Mackinac Island Historic District Commission

Developers proposing a new hotel on Mackinac Island will appeal to a state review board. An appeal filed for Ira Green and Melanie Libby says the Mackinac Island Historic District Commission acted arbitrarily in September when it rejected plans for the Main Dock Inn.

The three-story hotel would be right in front of the oldest ferry terminal on the island. People disembarking the Arnold Line would walk underneath the upper floors of the hotel to get to Main Street.

The developers claim island officials were confused about the project, and thought Selma’s Fudge Building would be destroyed to make room for the hotel. The appeal also seems to question whether the property is even in the new historic district. 

The appeal does not address a major concern of Mackinac Island about the project, the loss of open space along Main Street. The island’s architect, Rick Neumann, called the change drastic in his review, noting the hotel would cut off views of the water and the entire ferry complex, which includes a terminal building and warehouse. He says this collection of structures “represents the quintessential experience of living on or visiting an island.”

The appeal will be decided by a review panel of the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office. 

This is the first major project to be considered under new historic protections created in January on Mackinac Island. Until then there were no protections for old buildings in the 200-year-old city in northern Lake Huron, one of the most popular destinations in the Great Lakes.