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Retreat-like settings, restaurant to come to The Morris Estate

NILES — The Morris Estate sits on 600 contiguous acres of land, including riverfront property within Niles Charter Township. The land includes riverfronts and trails, in addition to the wedding venue and vacation escape it currently provides guests.

Resort ordinances are being adjusted within Niles Charter Township. On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the Niles Charter Township Board voted to update its resort ordinance from 20 acres of land to requiring 80 acres. For Braden Janowski, owner of The Morris Estate, the resort ordinance is an exciting step in both being able to further the vision he sees for the business, but also in preserving the beauty he sees in the Niles area.

Currently operating its event space and suites available for guests under a special land use, Janowski supports the township’s movement toward a full resort ordinance. He is planning to grow The Morris Estate into an established, high-end retreat.

“[The township board] recognizes that for some of these really large parcels that exist in the township, that there are opportunities for idyllic, rural resorts and agritourism in the township,” Janowski said. “They’re not wanting to put up skyscrapers or things that will disrupt the nature of it. It’s important to the residents around here, and it’s important to me because that’s why I live here.”

Without the resort ordinance, Janowski said many of the large parcels of land could have eventually been sold off into smaller ones and divided between owners, creating a higher density of people and businesses. The natural spaces, riverfront and feeling of being away from it all are all things he finds value in for the business, as well as preserving the peace of the place he and his wife have chosen to live.

For The Morris Estate’s next steps, Janowski hopes to further preserve the tranquility, nature and “escape from it all” feel of the property. He and his wife, Amber, want to bring a high-end resort for people seeking to spend time away from their metropolitan lifestyles.

He pictures their average guests to want to escape the hustle and bustle to connect with nature and relax. After hiking the trails and unplugging, he envisions guests still wanting to be taken care of in a fresh way.

“If you’re in a rural place, and [you’re] able to step into a place with the glamor and luxury you would have in a Manhattan-type, intimate restaurant,” Janowski said.

Janowski said, as they think forward into a post-COVID-19 world, he thinks talented chefs from areas in Chicago and New York might also enjoy taking a respite from the more densely populated areas and elevating the experience at The Morris Estate.

“We’re thinking about the world post-COVID-19,” Janowski said. “The township board knows every venue out there is struggling right now. We are lucky to have been able to keep our staff working and even when we were completely shut down, everyone was getting paid. We have remained loyal to our staff and customers, but it all has to evolve for the future.”

He said the luxury cabins were a part of that vision. He noted they will not be rustic, but have amenities like a private hot tub and fireplace, continuing to provide guests with a peaceful retreat to unplug and get some fresh air in nature.

“We believe that in the long term, we want to be able to create an experience that people would expect in a major metropolitan in a low-impact, rural setting,” Janowski said.

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