LOOKS LIKE THERE’S some interest in buying the old hospital property about to be vacated by UPHS Marquette.
“We just received our first two RFP’s (Requests for proposal) from two separate interested investors last week,” reports Victor Harrington, the regional marketing director for UPHS.
That’s good news. UPHS is likely going to vacate the premises early next year when it moves into its new $300 million digs along the highway. Nobody wants to see the old buildings and property sit vacant in the center of Marquette for any period of time.
Further, according to Harrington, the hospital might be interested in leasing back some of the space for support services (not patient care) once the property is sold.
Who are the possible investors? Not being disclosed yet. What might they develop on the property? Likewise, no details.
City manager Mike Angeli says the city’s made it clear that they want the owners to be tax-paying. In other words, no governmental entities, no nonprofits.
Duke LifePoint, which owns the hospital, is aware of that. The investors are apparently looking at the property for either commercial or residential purposes.
How about apartments? “We need to pay more attention to affordable housing in Marquette,” Angeli says. “There’s not much housing in the middle now.” He’s right. Most of the new developments appear to target the affluent, not the single person making $40,000 or the couple making $50,000.
But the decision of what to build will come from the investors, if and when they reach agreement with Duke Lifepoint.
NOW, THE OTHER big question facing Marquette in the near future: the Presque Isle Power Plant.
What happens when WE Energies vacates that facility, likely in the latter half of next year?
“We’ve been having preliminary talks with them about it,” Angeli says. “They have environmental responsibilities there (the clean-up) and they assure us they will address those concerns.”
But that still doesn’t answer a series of questions: Who’s going to buy that property? Who’s going to tear down the huge, existing structures? How long might the buildings stay there, abandoned? What ultimately will take their place, and when?
The ore dock in the Upper Harbor, of course, will stay because Cliffs needs it for the shipment of its ore, but Angeli says the neighboring power plant property, including a substantial beach, will need a buyer. A developer. A future.
So far, it appears, there’s nothing on the horizon.
THE OPENING OF the new Johnny Dogs in Munising has been delayed, but owner John Flanders now hopes to open the doors of his new restaurant in the next next ten days.
The renovation is nearly complete. The staff–the same group from the old restaurant–is ready to go. A new, slightly revised menu is set. Just about all that remains to be done are the inspections (and we know how simply and smoothly those always go).
For the last several months, after a dispute with his landlord at his old venue, Flanders has been transforming an old, closed-down Chinese restaurant on Superior Street into the new Johnny Dogs.
Johnny Dogs has acquired a heckuva reputation over the last several years for creative, delicious (and calorie-rich) food. Extremely popular. No wonder, as Flanders tells us, that people drop by every day asking, “When you gonna open?”
A STORY TO warm your heart and bring a smile to your face.
Anna Dravland, the 34 year old woman who suffered a debilitating stroke just four months ago, expects to return to work at Travel Marquette on Monday. She’s the marketing and event director at Travel Marquette.
A couple of months ago, after being hospitalized several times and experiencing continuing weakness throughout her body, she wondered whether she might ever regain a normal life. Looks like she will.
“For a while I was walking on egg shells,” she tells you, “because the doctors didn’t want to touch me. They were afraid they’d make things worse.” As in, triggering another stroke.
But a visit to the University of Michigan Medical Center assured her that she was recovering from her stroke, that her condition wasn’t all that delicate, and that even though her carotid artery was still blocked, other blood vessels had formed to facilitate adequate blood flow.
Now she’s getting physical therapy, massage, chiropractic care, and acupuncture. The pain is going away, she’s picked up her pace in walking, and her speech is normal.
Oh, and by the way, during her painful and sometimes depressing convalescence, she somehow managed to lead and inspire “Spread Goodness Day.” Which, according to Dravland’s latest tally, resulted in 8000 acts of kindness.
THE PUSH TO pump life back into the Lower Harbor’s ore dock is picking up steam.
The Ore Dock BoteEco Center is making progress on three different fronts:
- With the NMU School of Art and Design. BotEco is hoping to get a sophisticated 3-D rendition of the newly fashioned Ore Dock from NMU.
- With GEI Consultants of Marquette, who will be providing what’s called “augmented reality” that will show the different phases of transforming the dock.
- With the firm Infinite Method and its creative director Shaun Pitz, an NMU grad, who may be able to come up with a 3-D version of the Ore Dock showing how it’s changed during its long maritime history.
Why are all these important? Because they’ll enable the BotEco principals to go before the Ford Foundation or the Kellogg Foundation and say, “See! This is what the ore dock could become! This is why your investment is so important!”
BotEco envisions the long abandoned ore dock as a centerpiece for Marquette: a center for ecology, education, research, history, botanical gardens, and a community space.
SO HERE WE find ourselves in the sometimes sloppy, always unpredictable transition between winter and summer. Some people refer to it optimistically as “spring.”
The summer forecast? WLUC weather guru Karl Bohnak says his tarot cards aren’t telling him much yet, but he’s reasonably certain that this summer won’t be as cool as last summer. Which, as you might recall, was very cool.
But the month ahead? Forget about it. The cold will hang on for a good portion of April.
A couple other points that Bohnak makes: 1) This winter was colder than average, but less snowy–just about the opposite of what most of us prefer, and 2) The water level in Lake Superior, which had been rising, will level off because of decreased precipitation. That should mean wider beaches.
And more fun in the sun.
A TOURING THEATER group in the Upper Peninsula?
Well, that’s what the Upper Peninsula Shakespeare Festival is hoping to put together, maybe as early as next year.
A tough row to hoe. First off, there’s the need for money. And actors. And directors. And audiences. But they’re trying.
They’re putting together a fundraiser/performance at the Black Rocks canning facility on West Washington late this summer. They’ve also formed a subsidiary to UP Shakes–it’s called Wolf’s Head Theater Company, and it’ll be performing modern plays instead of the classics.
First up is “Bug” by playwright Tracy Letts. It’s a dark comedy directed by Jamie Weeder. It starts July 22nd at the Ore Dock Brewing Company.
But back to the plans for the touring company. The way they envision it, the troupe would travel the UP, performing plays or scenes from plays at schools, festivals and breweries.
Spreading culture. Opening our minds. Uplifting our spirits.
Yeah, it’s optimistic and ambitious, but we could use a lot more of that these days.
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