Archive for » March 19th, 2015«

Boat dealer hopes to bring new life to Saxon site

by Joni Astrup

Associate Editor

The old Saxon Motors site along east Highway 10 in Elk River may become a boat dealership, complete with a large new pond in front.

An artist’s rendering shows the pond that would be part of a proposed boat dealership at the old Saxon Motors site.

Dave Markquart, owner of Skeeter Boat Center, is interested in moving his dealership from Ramsey to the old Saxon site at 17354 Zane St.

Council members were asked to provide informal, non-binding feedback on the concept during a work session Monday at City Hall and appeared generally receptive to the idea.

Mayor John Dietz said he’s in favor of moving forward.

“This area has been blighted for a long time. It’s a terrible eyesore in Elk River, to have people coming into our city and this is one of the first things they see,” he said.

He also doesn’t think a boat dealership would generate a lot of traffic to impact the neighborhood. Markquart had indicated that 20 customers a day would be a lot.

The Saxon site was a car dealership that closed several years ago.

Now Markquart envisions updating and remodeling the building and installing a half-acre pond in front, complete with a dock and a pavilion. The pond would be stocked with fish and landscaped. It would give technicians a place to test boats for delivery and repair. It also would provide a place for the sales staff to demonstrate boat features (only the trolling motor would be used on the pond, not the boat’s main motor).

The property would be fenced.

The old Saxon Motors building would get a new look, as shown in this artist’s rendering.

Key to the project is receiving tax increment financing for restoring blighted property, according to a concept review that Markquart submitted to the city. TIF would allow the city to capture the additional property taxes generated by the new project and use that money to pay for certain development costs.

A critical component to establishing a redevelopment TIF district is finding that the structures within the district are substandard, according to city officials. An inspection will determine if the Saxon building is substandard.

The old Saxon dealership is located at 17354 Zane Street in Elk River.

Redevelopment TIF districts are not common in Elk River.

“We don’t do a lot of them,” said Jeremy Barnhart, the city’s deputy director of community operations and development. The last one was in 2006 to facilitate the two new downtown buildings — Granite Shores (formerly The Bluffs of Elk River) and Jackson Place.

Besides seeking TIF, the project also would require that the city’s land use plan be amended from high density residential to commercial, and it would need a conditional use permit.

If the project becomes reality, eight staff members would relocate from Ramsey to Elk River. An additional five service staff members would be expected to be added in the next two years, according to the concept review.

A portion of the building could also be rented out for office space, generating additional jobs.

About Skeeter Boat Center

•Skeeter Boat Center was founded by Dave Markquart in 2009. It has grown to be the third largest Skeeter dealer in the country, out of 165 dealers.

•Skeeter Boat Centers are now located in Ramsey and in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.

•Skeeter Boat Center is a retail fishing boat business selling primarily high-end Skeeter fiberglass fishing boats powered by Yamaha outboard motors.

•Skeeter is a luxury boat brand with package prices typically ranging from $30,000 to $80,000 each.

•The business offers a full range of fishing boat services, including new and used boat sales, marine maintenance and repair, and fishing boat parts and accessories.

Source: Concept review submitted by Dave Markquart to the city of Elk River.


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Sailing-Global race sets sail after dodging Cyclone Pam

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, March 18 (Reuters) – Volvo Ocean Race’s six-strong fleet finally set sail for Itajaí, Brazil, on Wednesday after Cyclone Pam kept it waiting in port nearly three more days than planned.

Organisers and skippers agreed to delay Sunday’s planned start for the fifth leg until Wednesday 0900 local time (2000 Tuesday GMT), because of the threat of the weather system that killed at least 11 people in Vanuatu.

The boats will now escape any serious threat from the weather but still face a treacherous 6,776-nautical mile stage through the Southern Ocean, around Cape Horn and into the Atlantic to Itajaí in south-eastern Brazil.

In the last race in 2011-12, five of the six competing boats suffered serious damage and only four completed the leg.

Conditions are likely to be the toughest in the nine-month race so far with waves around Cape Horn on the southern tip of Chile sometimes reaching 30 metres (100 feet).

Many see the leg as a key staging post in the overall race.

“There’s nowhere else on earth where you can do so much fast downwind sailing for so long,” said Simon Fisher, the British navigator for current leaders Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.

“It’s going to be the first time the whole fleet sees a lot of wind for an extended period and it might shuffle the pack. Keeping in one piece all the way to the Horn is important, because that’s where the race will be won and lost.”

The boats are expected to arrive in Itajaí around April 7. China’s Dongfeng Race Team were the first crew to exit Auckland’s waters.

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, headed by British skipper Ian Walker, lead the standings after four legs with Dongfeng Race Team level on eight points but with an inferior record in the in-port series which is the tie-breaker.

Team Brunel (Netherlands) are on 14 points ahead of Team Alvimedica (Turkey/U.S, 16 points), MAPFRE (Spain, 18) and Team SCA (Sweden, 24).

The team with the lowest points tally will win the nine leg, 38,739 nautical mile race that visits 11 ports and is scheduled to finish on June 27 in Gothenburg in Sweden.


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