MARQUETTE’S ICONIC ORPHANAGE, which has been an eyesore and a pain-in-the-ass for the city for the last couple of decades, is being reborn.
Home Renewal Systems, a downstate developer that holds a contract on the building, has just gotten word that it will be granted substantial tax credits for the Orphanage by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), helping to offset the $15 million price tag for the renovations.
That’s the news that HRS has been anxiously waiting for.
The developer is also expecting to get historic tax credits when the Orphanage is placed on the Historic Register.
So what will the Orphanage become? Low income housing–56 units–for working residents and military veterans. That was a crucial stipulation in getting the tax credits from MSHDA.
It will not be a home for indigents, however, but rather for those whose income is below the national average.
Architect on the project is Barry Polzin who says the new Orphanage (likely not the new name) will look like the original building that was built back in 1914. It was, of course, originally the Holy Family Orphanage operated by the Catholic diocese, then became offices for the diocese and still later offices for NMU.
It’s been vacant, except for pigeons, vandals and curiosity seekers, since the mid-80s. An absentee landlord refused to develop it or even clean it up for years while accumulating fines from the city. The building was finally foreclosed on.
Home Renewal Systems, which has developed similar projects downstate, stepped in with an offer, applied for the tax credits, hired Polzin, and now appears ready to go.
Within two weeks, crews will start clearing the brush and trees which appear to be strangling the building. Environmental clean-up will follow, and then a new roof and new windows will be installed. That’s all expected to happen before the end of the year.
Construction will be completed and residents will move in by early 2017, Polzin says. We’ll see. This wouldn’t be the first development project to fall months, or more, behind schedule.
Still, this is big news. Marquette is ridding itself of an eyesore and reclaiming a part of its past. And, oh yeah, providing comfortable, convenient housing for folks who could use a break or two.
A MUCH, MUCH smaller project on Third Street has run into a little snag.
Have you see seen the “parklets,” those little sitting areas attached to the sidewalks, but actually in the streets?
Well, actually, there’s only one now, next to the Casa Calabria. The one outside Third Street Bagel was taken down at the request of the owner. Just wasn’t working for them.
Mona Lang, the head of the Downtown Development Authority, concedes that the project, which is designed to encourage more pedestrian use and more “placemaking,” is a work in progress. Some things work, some don’t. She’s now searching for a new location for the second parklet.
Seems like a great idea–welcoming people to the streets, creating more of sidewalk atmosphere. The only problem, it seems, is that the parklets look and feel like temporary platforms, not like substantial, aesthetically pleasing enhancements of Third Street.
NEW NEIGHBORS ARE moving into the old Forsberg Flowers building on Third Street.
The law firm Hyde and Swajanen is now in the process of renovating the shop and the apartments above, with the expectation that they’ll be moving in by September.
George Hyde, one of the partners, concedes that it’s a big space–and they originally considered leasing part of it out to a retailer–but decided to keep it all for themselves, to allow for possible expansion in the future.
The two partners also hope to erect a new facade for the building next year.
MORE RECOGNITION FOR Marquette–this time in Preservation magazine.
The city gets a two page spread subtitled “Nuggets of mining history meet natural wonders in the upper Midwest.”
“…the region dazzles in the summer. Mild temperatures and constant lake breezes complement architectural charm, rendered in native sandstone and built during the region’s 19th century iron and copper mining booms…”
“…Marquette boasts a symphony orchestra, a choral society, four museums, six area lighthouses, and countless hiking, biking and water sports opportunities in the summer months…”
The article also includes recommendations of where to stay and eat here, as well as what to do, from three residents: NMU professor Russ Magnaghi, History Center executive director Kaye Hiebel, and Ore Dock Brewing Company manager Anjila Holland.
We sure get a lot of praise here–from publications, websites and organizations–but notably, few of them mention the five months of winter. Which, in the minds of many, is Nature’s way of keeping out the riffraff.
Question of the Day: Is subjecting a dog to a constant barrage of fireworks on July 4th any different from subjecting a frightened, white-knuckled passenger on a plane to a relentlessly turbulent five hour flight across the U.S.?
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