Not an Olive Garden
YES, THE FORMER Best Buy building is going to be repurposed. But no, much to the chagrin of the rumor mill crowd, it’s not going to be an Olive Garden.
The building has been purchased by Sarah and Jordan Wolfenberg of Iron Mountain. They already own a couple other area businesses and are expanding their outdoor rec empire to include Ride North Powersports & Marine… in the former Best Buy location.
According to Sarah, “We are rebranding our business and expanding our offerings.” That includes selling their UP Kubota building just up the road and moving that business into the Marquette Powersports building, a little further up the road, and putting a Ride North Campers business into the former Shopko building even further up the road, in west Ishpeming’s Country Village. Follow?
So, here’s the net result… one empty building in Marquette Township repurposed into a new business in a thriving industry, a new business in an empty building in the Country Village shopping center, a new business in the Marquette Powersports location, and one building left empty… the UP Kubota facility, now for sale. Nice to see some Iron Mountain folks investing in Marquette County.
Here’s a key word in all that… repurposing. They’re not building any new buildings to house their growing business footprint. How refreshing! Look around and you’ll see plenty of empty structures, former businesses that closed for one reason or another, available for something new.
It’d be nice to see our entrepreneurial community (that’s what we are now) put their business skills to work and take advantage of Marquette’s current popularity. Even though starting a new business, any business, is a tremendous challenge, it’s definitely the right time for the right business in the right place. And many of those places are already here, and available. Like the Best Buy building.
For instance… don’t you think something could succeed in the old Coco’s location? Or the former Jimmy John’s spot on North Third? Or in the new Third Street Marketplace? There are a number of empty buildings around town primed for the next big idea.
Corporate types like to build new, but for someone trying to make their small-business dream become a reality, finding an acceptable building that’s vacant and ready to go, is often the best way to get started.
Whether you buy or lease the property, moving into an existing structure is usually less expensive and will typically allow you to start making sales sooner, rather than waiting on new construction. And, if you’re at all concerned about environmental issues, repurposing fits into that whole reduce, reuse, and recycle mentality. Got a good idea? Now might be the time to make the move.
Hospital Property Issue continued…
In review… State Representative Sara Cambensy sent a letter to the Attorney General Dana Nessel asking for a look into the process by which the former Marquette General Hospital property is being sold, bought, and redeveloped, by a couple different local entities, including the NMU Foundation and the Veridea Group. The protagonists on the development side, with the exception of UP Health Systems, have each issued rebuttal statements to Cambensy’s… we’ll call them “allegations,” in which they continue to assert a good-faith, transparent effort to get the property redeveloped and back on the tax rolls.
In a statement to Word on the Street, Cambensy seemed to adequately justify her concerns and consequent request for an investigation. She outlined several issues that raised a red flag for her and a number of constituents, including, but not limited to… the brownfield tax captures, non-disclosure financial agreements, the effect on city taxes, a “surprise” state contribution for site demolition, and what she considers a lack of transparency.
When we’ve written about this in previous posts, we pointed out the purported independent nature of the NMU Foundation and their position as a private entity. Regardless of the Foundation’s legal obligations, Cambensy seems to think they should have been a little more open with the project’s details, and suggested that communications between her office and the development’s decision makers have been strained, at best. According to a Foundation spokesperson, they’ve tried to include Cambensy in the process, but have been unsuccessful in their efforts.
Until the Attorney General offers an official opinion, it’ll be a she-said, they-said back and forth between Representative Cambensy and the multiple forces on the development side. And, until we get some resolution from the AG, the project will be in somewhat of a pause mode. So, let’s hope the officials in Lansing put this thing on a front burner. If Nessel finds a reason to halt the proceedings, so be it. But if she finds nothing of serious concern, let’s get out of the way and let the development move forward.
Best case scenario? This is the last time we write about this until we see buildings coming down.
Lakenenland Music Fest
Starting tonight (Friday) and continuing tomorrow is Lakenenland Music Fest 2022. Check their Facebook page for the full music schedule. It’s a great event featuring a lot of good local talent. And while you’re there, buy a donation button or visit their gift shop and purchase something to help support this place. The music festival, along with the Lakenenland experience itself, is free. But, we know operations aren’t. They’ll surely appreciate it.