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TGB Receives Feasibility Study and Proposed Plan for Development of Capone's Hideout

Editor’s Note

The following is a presentation for development of the Al Capone’s Hideout property located within the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation. The LCO Tribal Governing Board asked for bids to do a feasibility study in late 2022 and Redevelopment Resources and Kye Studios were contracted to do the feasibility study and bring forward a proposed plan for the Tribe to develop the property. The following is that study and the proposed plan.

Plan Purpose, Process, Participants and Engagement Highlights

The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians sought to assess the financial redevelopment viability of the Al Capone Hideout property located within the reservation boundaries. There are 11 buildings and outbuildings located on the 407-acre plot of fee simple land which includes a 32-acre private lake and over 300 acres of forest. The Tribe purchased the property in 2009 and was awarded an Economic Development Administration grant to have a feasibility study on this area conducted to support tribal economic development. The tribe issued a Request for Proposals in the fall of 2022 for a feasibility study and recommendations for best uses of the property which will enhance the tribal and local economy.

Redevelopment Resources and Kye Studios were contracted to perform market research and analysis of the local trends, provide data supported recommendations, and proforma analysis for the property. The scope of work included the following;

1. Primary research : Stakeholder engagement, background research and contextualization

2. Secondary Research: publicly accessible and proprietary data gathering

3. SWOT Analysis of the site

4. Financial analysis and recommendations for preliminary design of future uses

5. Presentation of final design concepts and financial analysis

Interviews and focus groups with the Tribal Governing Board, tribal members, LCO staff, the local chamber of commerce, and a member of the Sawyer County/LCO Economic Development Corporation. The goals of the interviews were to:

• determine what attracted existing businesses to the area

• assess what additional infrastructure, amenities and/or services would have the highest return on retaining existing companies and attracting new businesses

• compare and contrast demand for industrial, entertainment, residential or commercial real estate within the region

• understand the best type of prospect for subject property

• determine opportunities and gaps in existing offerings, as well as what kind of complementary business support network exists for potential end uses of the property

Visions for site include:

• Hospitality, lodging

• Themed dining/gaming – playing off gangster era historical period

• Brewery/distillery

• Camping

• Trails

• Cultural camp with traditional agricultural practices– wild rice harvesting, berries, maple syrup

• Possible vacation destination/ Resort with restaurant (Native Themed)

• Event Space – for weddings or other large gatherings

• Possible connection with the college for agricultural projects

• Wooded areas preserved for Maple Trees(Syrup), Birch, Basswood (Rope) – if these species exist on the property

• Bait Shop, marina for boat repair

• Housing for hospitality workers

In 2022, the tribe undertook a strategic planning process. Seven major themes came out of discussion including economic development. The following were identified as priorities for economic development within the tribe:

• Develop and implement plan for Hideout

• Large, positive presence in Sawyer County

• Support for entrepreneurship and cultivation of small businesses

• Profitable, diverse enterprises/businesses

• SBA 8(a) businesses certified

• Creation of development corporation

• Lower unemployment

Labor Market

Within a 45- minute drive time, the dominant industries include:

• Agriculture/Forestry/Fishing

• Arts/Entertainment/Recreation

• Manufacturing

• Other Services

Although the agriculture/forestry/fishing and arts/entertainment/recreation industries are not known for their high wage-earning jobs, gearing the future of the Hideout property toward recreation and entertainment is an appropriate future use of the property, due to the affinity of the surrounding area, the draw from outside to Sawyer County for tourism, and the natural amenities existing on-site.

Development of the Hideout site with its focus on ag/forestry/fishing, and arts/entertainment/recreation also diversifies the Tribe’s revenue streams away from casino revenue and into other more diverse revenue streams.

We then assessed the available labor force within the market area by examining the unemployment rate, educational attainment, wages by industry, and commuting characteristics and from publicly available sources. Due to the sample size of the site, Sawyer County was used as the basis of analysis. From the subject site, one can reach most of Sawyer County within a 45 min. drive –time and the entire Northwest Regional Plan Commission (NWRPC) area within 120 min.

Using census data, about 33% of the labor market area is within Sawyer County and another 33% within the NWRPC. (See Appendix A - Maps.) The remaining Sawyer County residents are the only employees in other locations and, due to confidentiality, were reported as “other locations”. The development of the site, its amenities, maintenance and staffing will be dependent on the available labor force, their skill level and wage expectations. This study, therefore, focuses on attracting and retaining the talent within Sawyer County and acknowledges the competition of other employers within the region.


More than 25% of the labor force within a 45 min-drive time of the site have a bachelor’s degree or higher. More than a 66% have a high school diploma, some college or an associate's degree.

Unemployment Rate:

While Sawyer County’s unemployment rate is higher compared to the State of Wisconsin, it is still very low and considered full employment. This indicates that there isn’t a readily available workforce from which to draw on and will require active recruitment of employees unhappy in their current occupation or location, potential employees from outside the region, or recruitment from unconventional talent pools.

Within the Northwest Wisconsin region, Sawyer County’s tourism industry does very well and continues to grow. Since 2020, the total economic impact on the tourism industry in Sawyer County has grown by approximately 25%. Direct visitor spending grew from $82.7M in 2020 to $103.9M in 2022.

Tourism Market

Based on the rule-of-thumb that visitors are willing to spend four times the time it takes to travel to a location and anticipating overnight stays (spending at least eight hours at a destination). Therefore, demographic and tourism related data was analyzed for up to a 120- minute drive time. This roughly includes the area north-south from Duluth, MN to Eau Claire, WI and east-west from Minocqua, WI to Forest Lake, MN. (See Maps in Appendix A.) The population in this area is expected to increase by 0.11% annually through 2027. The median household income was estimated to be $62,769 in 2022 and is expected to grow by annually by 3.4% by 2027. While the national inflation rate was 8.26% in August of 2022, inflation has steadily declined to a low of 2.97% in June of 2023 according to This is great news for the travel industry and its competition over consumer spending. The US Travel Association posted the following insights for July 2023:

• Total travel spending improved to 0.9% above June 2022 levels and was up 4.7% year-to- date through June 2023.

• Travel prices continue to slow faster than overall prices and contracted 1.7% in June, the first decline since February 2021.

Historical Context and Existing Conditions

During the 1920’s prohibition era, the estate was owned by Al Capone, but has had a series of uses including a restaurant, site tours, haunted house, and a small event venue. The Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa purchased this 408-acre parcel in 2009 for $2.8M.

Land & Natural Resources The site contains a 32-acre lake, Pike Lake, which is a soft water, seepage lake with a small outlet stream flowing into Lake Chippewa. The fish population includes walleyes, largemouth bass, perch, rock bass, bluegill, black crappie, bullhead, and suckers. An occasional partial winterkill of fish occurs.

Upland hardwood forest borders the east and west shores, while the remaining shoreline is conifer swamp and fresh meadow wetlands. Ducks and loon nest here. Muskrat and beaver are common.

The site topography is rolling and contains 405 acres of productive forest. However, there was extensive timber cutting done in 2010. While there are no known brownfield sites on the site, it is recommended to contact LCO Conservation for specific information regarding the removal of Underground Storage Tanks (UST).

There is a driveway off CTH CC which is partially paved to the gate. From the gate to the interior of the site is a gravel/dirt road. Electricity is provided by Jump River Electric Cooperative. The site also contains four wells, five septic systems, and LP gas tanks.

Bar-Restaurant-Gift Shop

Main Lodge

Caretaker's Home

Double Section Mfg. home

Single Section Mobile Home

Storage Building near the Bar/Restaurant/Gift Shop

Pole Building

Horse Shelter

Chicken Coop

Museum Bldg. 1

Museum Bldg. 2

1.5 story Bunk House

2-car garage

SWOT Analysis

A SWOT analysis is a realistic and comprehensive evaluation of the study area’s existing strengths and weaknesses, as well as future opportunities and threats. Metrics for this analysis include:

• Existing assets and amenities of property

• Labor trends and issues within the County

• Business climate perceptions of the region

• Infrastructure necessary to realize various end uses for the property


Large site

Could support multiple industries

Access from north and west

Lake on-site

Unique history of existing buildings

History of the era of Capone

Tourism-based economy nearby

Significant recreation resources in County

Tribal ownership/ debt free

High ag/forestry/fishing location quotient

Productive forest land

Stone buildings provide natural aesthetic

Sawyer County EDC active

Remote sites, facilitates a "getaway"


Lack of significant infrastructure to/within site

Reliable internet can be a problem

Business management capacity of tribe

Marina space in area is lacking

Marina services (boat/engine repair) are lacking

Area doesn't see/use University as a resource

Current lodging is full in-season (hotels, airbnbs)

Existing lodge/restaurant on site is blighted

Public relations with past ATV trail closures

Remote location, far from services

Age of existing infrastructure


Capture more tourism dollars

Generate revenue outside of casinos

Can preserve natural beauty of lake and land

Could provide physical, spiritual, emotional rejuvenation

Create world-class tourist/rec. destination

Could also support logging industry on-site

Cultural camp with traditional agri. practices

Potential event space/site

Create cultural/ecological connection w/University

Potential maple syrup operation

Demand for short-term lodging in Sawyer County

Potential for prohibition era brewery/distillery

Could tie in lodging operation with The Landing

Mid-to-upper end restaurant



Medicinal plant center on site


Occasional conflict and disagreement with tribe

Business management needs to be solid

Marketing needs to be exemplary

Site and event management and coordination will be key

Economic downturn/recession could impact tourism/recreation

Cost of construction is high

Challenge finding reliable staff/workforce

Will need to supply reliable internet

Proposed Site Plan

Existing Buildings


Refurbish as an Interactive Center for guests to partake in Hideaway Activities such as Wild Rice processing.

Barn 2

Refurbish to provide lakeside support for general storage, wild rice, canoeing & kayaking.


Refurbish to 1930’s Capone Era. This could function as a historic piece with potential as guest accommodations.

Capone’s Main Lodge

Refurbish Main Lodge as special event space to 1930’s Capone Era. Could provide weekly tour per weekend for guests or campers.

Lakeside Cabin

Remodel to a rustic cabin quality. Space could be used to host a wedding party or provide large group lodging.

Stone Garage

Initially could be used for general storage, but the long-term plan would be to refurbish to 1930’s Capone Era and use for Capone Era vintage car storage.

Chef’s Garden

Oregano is currently growing in the garden but could be cut back to provide space for other fresh vegetables to be grown for the use in the kitchen.

Stone Lakeside Shed

Refurbish to 1930’s Capone Era and clear around building to slow deterioration. Future long-term plan would be as lake amenity storage for guest use of items such as life jackets, kayak or wild rice harvesting equipment.

Maintenance Buildings

Refurbish both for potential uses such as wild rice and/or maple syrup processing, portable trailer manufacturing, wildlife rehabilitation center, raptor center.


Refurbish stone bases to 1930’3 Capone Era and re-build pergola for photo opportunities such as wedding events, reunions, and senior photos.

Stockade Building

Leave as a historic ruin initially but remove overgrown plants and trees to slow down it’s deterioration. The long-term plan would be to rebuild the stone foundation and construct a new upper level to be used as rentable lodging space, convenience/camp store, or caretaker’s quarters. If used as a camp store for campers, items such as water, beverages, bug spray, general camping supplies, LCO-Capone Hideout merchandise, etc. could be sold here.


Leave as a historic ruin initially but remove overgrown plants/trees to slow deterioration. The long-term plan would be to refurbish and rebuild the floor and roof. Create a unique and fun Capone Hideout feature and photo opportunity for visitors. Capone era props could be included as well as a trap door in the floor for prop storage below.

New Construction

Lakeside Cottages

Two to three 1200SF cottages set in woods so that they are hardly visible. Guests will park at Entry Road and have a short walk to the cottages. Cottages will also connect to the Lakeside Trail to the west.


Demolish existing restaurant and Investigate re-use of utilities & foundation. Rebuild new 5,200 square foot restaurant with the capacity to accommodate 99 persons. The interior design of the restaurant could be in the 1920s era “Speakeasy” and have a flexible floor plan to accommodate large & small separate events. Space should also include rustic-style event areas.

Traditional Structures

Construct two to six structures to provide a variety of uses such as historical educational experience for guests to rentable campsite. Final locations to be determined.

Site Development

Drivable Portable Cabin Campsites

These campsites will not be visible from Entry Drive, but guests can drive up to them. One loop will have eight (8) campsites on approx. 1.5 acres. Additional loops may be added as needed and viable. Location will be determined by the terrain but should connect to Lakeside Trail.

Non-Drivable Campsites

These sites will require a hike in or site staff will need to provide motorized access. One loop will have eight (8) campsites on approx. 1.5 acres. Additional loops may be added as needed and viable. Location will be determined by the terrain but should connect to main hiking trail system.

Tent Event Area

Remove existing mobile homes and create a level tent event area to host a variety of events such as concerts, weddings, vendor markets, car shows, etc.

Tent Event Support Building - Option A

If it is possible to reuse existing utilities, this location is an option to provide amenities such as shower and toilet facilities, a multipurpose room or bridal room, catering kitchen, grand fireplace, and/or caretaker quarters overlooking Entry Road.

Tent Event Support Building - Option B

This is the preferred location for supporting activities. If Caretakers quarters are within building, provide view to Entry Drive for supervision and security.


Fire Pits & Firewood

The site should provide one to two large community fire pits and individual fire pits at camp sites. Firewood should be made available or for sale by the bundle.


Main Gate

Refurbish gate & structure in such a way that indicates visitors have arrived at their destination and have a positive, welcoming first impression. This is an opportunity to incorporate LCO design items within metal gate.

Hwy CC Gate

Refurbish gate & structure but keep locked. Maintain general hiking trail to the gate.

Lake Access (LA)

Widen access, clean up, and provide small dock.


General Parking (P1)

Site for restaurant and/or tent event parking.

Overflow Parking (P2)

Parking along Main Drive and possible classic car parking for a car show event.

Campsite Parking for walk in campsites (P3)

This parking is for the portable cabin sites that require a short hike in and are indicated by “PC2” on the proposed site plan map.


Trail Properties

Create a multi-looped trail system used strictly for silent sports such as hiking, cross country skiing, etc. No utility vehicles on hiking trails except those used to shuttle guests or for maintenance. Utility vehicles should be allowed only on driveways and for guests to attend an event.

System should be expandable over the next 10-20 years. Add additional loops as growth permits. When determining locations for trails and camp sites, consider locations that are sensitive to the natural environment, have views of the lake , and provide hiking vistas.


General Hiking Trail

This trail currently exists on the west side of Pike Lake with opportunities for expansion south of the lake.

Lakeside Hiking Trail

Continue existing hiking trail and connect to new features.

Hiking Trail with limited motorized vehicle access (T3)

WATER (drinkable)

Locate two to three sites for point-driven, hand pump wells to provide drinkable water supply for campers. These sites should also offer shelter and create a symbolic connection between water and humanity.


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James Harnden
James Harnden
Nov 20, 2023

This project needs a museum dedicated to Capone. His impact on Rockford was notable with underground storage and tunnels along with building new homes.


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