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Primrose offer denied ahead of potential hotel deal in Cottage Grove

An offer from Primrose Schools to build a 12,000-square-foot early education and childcare center on city-owned land in Cottage Grove was denied after the city said a potential deal with a hotel chain was in the works.

Primrose franchisee hopefuls Melinda and Mickey Arora, of Cottage Grove, and Richard Kaspar, site acquisition manager for Primrose, had their sights set on a roughly two-acre parcel of land adjacent to Ruby Tuesdays and Oakwood Park on Hardwood Avenue.

The only problem: The city wants to build a hotel there.

“We basically said that we would like to have (Primrose) in town but we’ve been working for seven years now on getting a hotel to that site,” City Administrator Ryan Schroeder said.

A hotel and lodging study was completed last year which stated the city did not have adequate lodging choices and pointed city officials in the direction of mid-sized hotels.

Since then, no deals have been made.

However, Mayor Myron Bailey said an offer from a “branded hotel” is on the horizon.

“We do expect an offer from a hotel within the next couple of weeks,” he said. “They’re already drawing up plans to make sure it fits. It will be a very nice, branded hotel and more fitting for the property.”

Bailey added that the city envisions that area to be more commercial and that “a hotel would work better from a synergy standpoint.”

Schroeder said the city is currently working with Kaspar and the Aroras to find another site to build. However, Kaspar said he doesn’t know if another site in Cottage Grove would work for the school.

He cited the park land, secluded drive and easy access from Highway 61 as three major positives about the property near Ruby Tuesdays.

“With a lot of development happening on (the south) end of town and many people driving north to get to their jobs, we thought it would be easy to take the exit, drop the kids off and head to work,” Mickey told the city’s Economic Development Authority last week.

Kaspar said the traffic signal at 80th Street and East Point Douglas Road is also plus because it’s a “controlled intersection,” making it easier for parents to maneuver the area.

“I’m absolutely disappointed,” Kaspar said. “But moving forward we need to make sure we find the right site that’s the right fit. And if we can’t find it, then the other alternative is to move this to another market.”

Primrose Schools operates over 280 childcare facilities across the country, including several in the Twin Cities. The nearest Primrose Schools are in Woodbury and Eagan.