Year in Review 2018: Development in Sister Bay

Now that Sister Bay’s waterfront and highway projects are safely in the rearview mirror, the biggest issues in the village center on questions about what type of developments are allowed to capitalize on the massive investments in public improvements.

No community has been hotter than Sister Bay the last three years, with an influx of restaurants and beer gardens opening and operating in perfect tune with the demands of today’s visitors. Room-tax returns have spiked 26 percent since 2015, and more developers want in on the action.

This year a host of projects moved toward the groundbreaking or opening stages, with mixed reactions from locals and visitors. In January, the village approved a proposal for a wedding barn and campus on Fieldcrest Road. Most controversial was the Dörr Hotel, proposed by Chris Schmeltz of Jaco Management. The 45-unit hotel (it was originally 40 units) will rise to 45 feet: a height many object to as being out of character with the village, though it adheres to village requirements.

Across Mill Road, another hotel met with almost no pushback. Goose & Twigs, a boutique hotel and market, neared completion as the year came to a close. Another 12-unit condominium project broke ground in the fall just north of the Boathouse on the Bay restaurant. The increase in lodging and condominium units signals that the action won’t slow in Sister Bay next year.

But it wasn’t just the downtown corridor that picked up the pace in 2018. Up the hill, the Country Walk Shops saw a rebirth, with seven new businesses moving in and the long-wished-for start to the expansion and remodeling of the Piggly Wiggly.

But if the Dörr Hotel drew ire in 2018, that reaction may pale in comparison to what could come in 2019. In December, a preliminary proposal to divvy up the beloved shoreline of Pebble Beach into four private parcels got a first hearing before the Sister Bay Plan Commission.

And in the fall, Greg Casperson sold his funeral home business (but not his downtown property) to Huehns Funeral Home. It remains to be seen what’s next for the Casperson’s property, but Greg Casperson said in December that a buyer was interested who would likely pursue a development with a mix of condominium and transient residential units.

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