DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A Hong Kong-based businessman wants to transform the dilapidated Detroit Boat Club building on Belle Isle into a boutique hotel.

Jimmy Lai, owner of the Vintage Hotel group, has proposed the $40 million project. Mark Simon, Lai’s representative, said the vision is to rebuild the boat club, built in 1902, to its original appearance.

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“You don’t hear this said often, but Detroit is really a pretty city,” Simon told The Detroit News. “The riverfront is spectacular.”

Simon said plans include renovations to transform the building — which serves as the current home of the Detroit Boat Club, a rowing group — into a hotel with 100- to 120-rooms. Plans also include room for restaurants and boat dock restorations. Simon said the hotel could even become a popular destinations for weddings because “the setting on the riverfront is so unique.”

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City officials have yet to comment publically on the hotel proposal.

The state is taking over the city-owned park under a lease imposed by Detroit Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. The move is expected to save the city between $4 million and $6 million a year. Starting Feb. 10, there will be a $11-per-car annual fee to Belle Isle. [READ MORE]

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