Members of the Lake Minnetonka sailing community remember the late Mike Plant as a heroic sailor who completed three solo trips around the globe, before perishing when his boat capsized in 1992, as he prepared for a fourth trip. Earlier this year, the remembrance became official, with the June 7 grand opening of Wayzata Sailing's (formerly called the Wayzata Community Sailing Center) Mike Plant Community Boathouse in Wayzata.
In 1994, Wayzata resident Mary Plant established the Mike Plant Fund in honor of her son, to provide scholarships to summer camps and youth racing programs and funds for community outreach programs that offer youth sailing experiences.
The effort to raise funds for a new facility was launched in 2006, and $2 million was collected within a year, to acquire the land, according to executive director Matthew Thompson. Eventually a total of $4.8 million was collected, to finance demolition of the old facility, and new construction. The new 4,000-square-foot building replaces the group's former headquarters, an 1890 house overlooking the lake at 456 Arlington Circle in Wayzata. Thompson says the new facility gives the group space to stay active through the cold weather months, offering not only sailing education, but ecological content and an expanded STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) program.
“In the past, we had to shut down for the winter. We're looking forward to keeping the group connected through the winter with our own space.”
The main floor consists of a classroom/multi-purpose room with seating for up to 100, offices, kitchen, bathrooms, changing rooms and a service garage. The upper floor is used for storage. Traditional boat-building inspired the design, with a partially exposed structure meant to resemble the ribs of a boat. The project team included Minneapolis-based firms JE Dunn Construction and HGA as the design architect.
Architect Jason Vanselow says the project was a “design-build” partnership of the two firms, that started in early spring, 2018. He was impressed by the “really strong relationship” Thompson and the organization had with the local community. “One of the goals was to create a facility that was as maintenance-free as possible.” That was accomplished by using a fiber-cement siding; cedar paneling was added to “soften” the look, Vanselow says.
Thompson says the building fits the neighborhood. “It doesn't look like just another house. We look unique, in a good way, even with all of the really modern homes in the area.”
When the group was picking a name for the facility, a proposal was raised to name it for Mary Plant, a dedicated volunteer “who was here every day, making lunch for the outreach kids who came here," Thompson recalls. But Plant suggested naming the building to honor her late son.
Wayzata Sailing, a nonprofit that serves about 1,200 youth and adult sailors per year, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its founding in 2020.