Skip to main content

Parking dilemma for Community Center hotel project can be solved

It finally appears that the Ely Community Center has new life.

Shuttered for nearly a decade and on the verge of being a community eyesore, the building is in private hands, with plans for it to become a hotel - maybe as soon as 2025.

That’s welcome news for Ely and for an assortment of reasons.

Those of us old enough to remember when the building was vibrant and a bit of a local hub - home to weddings, dances, the library and more - will be happy to see the structure renovated and repurposed.

City officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief that the building is no longer theirs to worry about, and that if developer Matt Stupnik’s plans come to fruition, the Community Center will be generating taxes rather than costing the taxpayers of Ely.

And for the community at large, a revitalized Community Center serves an array of purposes - from providing a new lodging establishment to perhaps breathing new life downtown. In addition, the project will most certainly result in some new jobs.

To boil it down, private investment is fueling community benefit: a win-win all-around.

The project seems to be moving forward but like any major development, a few hiccups have occurred along the way.

The most recent are concerns over parking, or lack thereof, near the Community Center.

From what we’ve gathered, Stupnik has tried without success to purchase a nearby property or two to build a parking lot for his hotel.

All real estate transactions need a willing buyer and seller, and to date no agreement has been reached.

The optimum solution would be another private transaction, but there are other options if Stupnik and a neighbor can’t or won’t strike a deal.

Right across First Avenue East, directly across from the Community Center, is a city-owned parking lot that could serve as, at the very least, a temporary fix.

The lot adjacent to Ely’s Senior Center building could easily serve dual purposes.

Hotel parking lots are at their busiest during the late evening and early-morning hours.

Meanwhile, the bulk of the activities at the Senior Center are during the day.

Would it be ideal for either entity? No.

But could it work for both? Clearly.

We’re talking about more than $3 million in private investment and a chance to repurpose a building with a rich and storied history.

This project shouldn’t be held up by the lack of an agreement on further parking - or an impasse over a private real estate agreement.

There’s an existing parking lot nearby that can bridge the gap - however long that might take.

Sign up for News Alerts

Subscribe to news updates