Developer Proposes Plan for The Inn at Okoboji (Iowa)

By | February 14th, 2018

A multimillion-dollar plan to demolish all existing buildings at the 121-year-old resort was presented to the city on February 12. Whitecap, LLC bought the property at auction in a $5.7 million deal late last year, and wants to divide the lakefront portion of the property into six single-family residential lots.

A multimillion-dollar plan for redevelopment of the property known for more than a century as The Inn at Okoboji (Iowa) was proposed on February 12, the Sioux City (Iowa) Journal reported.

The plans call for demolition of all existing buildings, beginning in March, and dividing the lakefront portion of the property into six single-family residential lots, each about 75 feet in width and about 450 feet deep. Rapid City, S.D.-based Whitecap, LLC bought the property at auction in a $5.7 million deal that closed in December 2017 without identifying the principals in the corporation, the Journal reported.

San Francisco hedge fund manager William Duhamel, and his wife, Katharine Duhamel, were the only two principals identified Monday night. Duhamel’s hedge fund, Route One Investment Company, lists more than $4 billion in assets under management, according to recent regulatory filings. The firm was founded in 2010, the Journal reported.

Whitecap’s redevelopment plans are contingent on vacation of Eden Street, which would require council approval. The six proposed homes would be the only construction to replace the 155 units of The Inn, the Journal reported.

Reciting the city’s mission statement, to “Improve and Protect Our Community,” real estate broker Michael Jensen, who represented Whitecap in its purchase, told the crowd of several dozen local residents packed in to the small council chambers that the Duhamels intend to do just that with a much lower density development, the Journal reported.

Under the redevelopment, all parcels north of Lakeshore Drive—about 69 acres comprised of a golf course and farmland—would be turned into greenspace and a park with paved trails, the Journal reported.

“It is the intent of Whitecap to develop and maintain this park, without any cost to the city whatsoever,” Jensen wrote in the letter he presented to the mayor and council.

Mayor Mary VanderWoude, who is a non-voting member of the council, explained after the meeting that the council has no history of vacating city property. VanderWoude was elected mayor 12 years ago after serving on the planning and zoning commission for four years, the Journal reported.

“But I like the idea,” VanderWoude said, adding that she expects the council will have many more questions before taking the issue to a vote. The council voted against a vacation of 16 feet of lakeshore within the last year, she noted. “We’ll be taking this one day, one step, at at time. This is a huge deal for the city of Okoboji,” VanderWoude said. “It’s very important to do this right.”

Councilman Jim Dalperdang, a retired physician who has been elected to five terms on the council said his impression is that the Whitecap offer, “is sort of a natural evolution of the property.”

“I’m sensitive to the community’s needs, but also have to respect private property rights,” Dalperdang said. “These people have every right to work through the process and do what they are doing. I can only do what’s legal and in the best interests of the residential character of Okoboji.”

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