A YEAR OR two ago, we were hearing there was a shortage of housing in Marquette, especially good rental housing.
Seems like we’re on the way to rectifying that.
CASE IN POINT #1:
The Orphanage project is moving along. Construction plans have been drawn up. Environmental reports have just been completed, and surprisingly there was less lead and asbestos inside than had been expected.
The financial deal officially closes at the end of the year. Interior demolition begins in January. Exterior work starts in the spring. Holes have already been cut in the exterior walls and windows to help dry out the building.
Huge project. 56 subsidized new apartments, nice ones, for working adults and veterans. Should be open in spring of 2017.
215 South Front Street. The wine bar building! Yeah, but it will also feature three apartments, one of them with four bedrooms.
Demolition and construction there is starting this week.
Should be completed by the end of March.
And Everyday Wines, which will be operating the wine bar on the first floor and in the basement of the building, says to expect the first pour in June. Guessing there might be an eager crowd there for the opening.
The UP Motors building on Washington Street, the former home of the Montgomery Wards store.
Demolition and construction are already well underway. It’s all retail space and offices on the ground floor–Jessica & Company, RG Design, Neuro Trainer, and likely an engineering firm.
But on the huge second floor, six new apartments are going in. Two bedrooms, two baths for each of them.
Brand new stuff everywhere but with an older, classy, comfortable feel to it.
And, in all likelihood, solar panels on the roof.
Anticipated opening for the apartments? Late 2016.
One Marquette Place. That’s the empty space just to the north of the Hampton Inn on the lake shore.
64 urban-style loft apartments anticipated in phase one of this project, but it’s moving more slowly than anticipated.
The financing reportedly is 95% done…but not quite. One of the largest mortgage brokers in the nation is coming to town this week to eyeball the project. The hope is that they’ll sign on.
The building, which will also include offices and a cafe, will cost $11 million, the separate parking garage $4.5 million.
With luck, construction here begins in the spring.
Founders Landing. These are condos, high end, across from the lake.
The Gaines building should be completed by January 1, and some of the residents expect to be moving in before Christmas. Nine units total. Seven have been sold, two are still available.
The next and last building at Founders Landing will the Adams building. Again, nine units, two which have been pre-sold. If three more are pre-sold by summer, that’s when construction will begin.
The Shiras Hills condos. This one’s a little iffy because it’s had a few problems with the city.
The owner concedes the project has stalled but he still expects to start construction by next spring or summer.
Trees were cleared from the site earlier this year–much to the dismay of some residents and the surprise of some city officials–but the project didn’t get any further than that.
If the problems are worked out and construction does proceed, residents at these condos will have a spectacular view of the lake, and they’ll be five minutes from downtown.
WHICH BRINGS US to Marquette’s energy situation.
New buildings, new businesses and new residents all mean more demand for power, and just about everyone acknowledges the Board of Light and Power’s plant is getting old and starting to wheeze. Unreliable. Prone to occasional breakdowns that could lead to blackouts.
The BLP’s board strongly suggests three new plants–a locally owned Energy Center, mostly run by natural gas.
Sounds great, but the cost to the taxpayers would be $77 million, paid over 20 years. A 30% rate hike the first year.
Not so fast, say some City Commissioners, who will have final say on this. They’re suggesting building only one, maybe two of them, to help keep the cost down.
And more important, start looking at other options. A wind power generator, for example. Or solar. They could supplement the natural gas-powered generator.
Suggestion: Talk to Rich Vanderveen, who moved to Marquette a year ago. He knows a little something about wind power. He’s the one who got those windmills in Mackinaw City installed. He also founded Michigan’s largest wind farm in Gratiot County.
He’s been referred to as the “Godfather of Wind Power” in Michigan.
Might make sense to see what he has to say. And more to the point, what he could do.
SPEAKING OF SOLAR, Kassel’s Corner, the party store on US 41 south of Marquette, still has the largest array of solar panels in the entire Upper Peninsula.
Eighty-five panels in all, located on the south-facing roof of the store.
They went on line last December, and Joe Kassel, the manager, says they’ve performed as expected. The panels provide about half the store’s power needs in the summer, but very little in the midst of winter.
On very sunny days, Kassel’s trades some of its excess power to the grid.
Kassel expects a payback from the solar installation in about nine years. He did it, he says, because 1) it was right thing to do environmentally 2) electricity rates were going up, and 3) federal tax credits–30% of the cost–were available for solar installation.
That was huge. Those credits, by the way, are going away at the end of 2016.
Just a guess. With the deadline in sight–30% in tax credits!–we might see a run on solar power installations this year.
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