TOO BAD ABOUT the wet and blustery weather this week because Marquette is on display before 1000 of Michigan’s movers and shakers.
You may have noticed them on the streets and in the restaurants, bars and hotel lobbies–members of the Michigan Municipal League. They’re politicians, city officials and lobbyists from all over the state. Only rarely do they venture this far north for their convention.
In a very real sense, Marquette is a poster child for city revitalization and can provide lessons for other languishing cities and towns.
You don’t have to go back very far–30 or 40 years–to remember when Marquette’s waterfront was an industrial slum and its downtown was all but dead. Today? A brilliant and striking contrast.
The often unappreciated partnership between government and private enterprise has led the way.
THE MUNICIPAL LEAGUE has just published a book, The Economics of Place: The Art of Building Great Communities, and no surprise, several pages are devoted to the turnaround in Marquette.
A quote: “Today, the city of Marquette essentially owns and controls its entire waterfront, a fact that has had a profound impact on its sense of place as a scenic waterfront community.”
The book goes on to praise the city’s brownfield cleanup, its embrace of its historical heritage while welcoming new development, and its promotion of the city as an outdoors community flush with bike trails everywhere.
Also mentioned: brew pubs (“Brew pubs have just gone nuts here”), the Landmark Inn (“History and architecture buffs have made it a favorite spot on the circuit of national historic hotels”), the remarkably popular and sold-out Beerfest (“The only problem might be too much success”), and the Vierling (“They actually still walk down to the harbor each day and get the fish fresh off the dock”).
We’ve got a lot to boast about. Now, if we could just do something about the rain and the wind. And the icebergs in the harbor on May 30th.
A NEW CHAPTER on the city’s future was being written this week at M Bank on Washington Street.
About twenty heavy hitters (annual income of $200,000 or net worth of $1,000,000) gathered to hear a pitch to become angel investors in Marquette’s new Smartzone.
Angel investors invest in small, start-up companies in need of cash.
The Smartzone, with substantial financial incentives for high tech entrepreneurs, will be taking shape over the next six months throughout the city.
You like high tech? You like taking a bit of a gamble on smart people with new ideas? You like investing locally? You got an extra 50 grand burning a hole in your pocket? This is an opportunity to make a difference to your net worth, and to your hometown.
WE DON’T WANT to jump the gun on this but it sure looks like the once controversial and much delayed boathouse on Lake Superior, near the Hampton Inn, will become a reality within a few years.
The Marquette Planning Commission and the City Commission have now approved the plan to lease the boathouse to the Upper Peninsula Community Rowing Club.
Issues may still crop up but it appears that final approval of the rezoning of the site by the City Commission is all that remains. That should come at its October 27th meeting, just before the next election which, with new members, could have thrown the entire issue into doubt.
What you’re hearing now is a collective sigh of relief from the rowers who’ve been planning this for four years and struggling to get it through the City Commission for eighteen months.
Most of the criticism died when the UPCRC agreed to build the boathouse but let the city maintain ownership of the property.
One teeny, tiny obstacle remains. The club has to raise a paltry $600,000 over the next few years to build the boathouse. Here’s a guess: these women (and the club, for some reason, is mostly women) will do it ahead of schedule. They’re a smart, tenacious, and well-connected bunch.
SO YOU STILL can’t order a Corona with your burrito at Sol Azteca?
Nope. Management at the Mexican restaurant which opened since last winter (sans alcohol) bought a liquor license a few months back from a Gwinn business, but has still not gotten state approval to actually sell liquor.
The food’s been good and inexpensive but management is frustrated because they’re losing money. They say several tourists have sat down to order, then gotten up and left upon learning that alcohol wasn’t on the menu.
Here’s the back story. Sol Azteca management has gone to State Representative John Kivela looking for help. Kivela inquired and learned the Liquor Control Commission has denied the restaurant’s application for a liquor license. No reason was given to Kivela.
Now the license denial is going through the appeal process. No word yet on when that will be completed.
So Sol Azteca has a liquor license but they can’t use it, at least not yet.
In the meantime, they’ll ply you with soft drinks and water. Yum.
CONTRARY TO EXPECTATIONS a few months ago, the tiny but much loved Huron Earth Deli on South Third Street is still open.
The owner thought she would close down and complete the sale of the building to an out-of-state couple within a few weeks.
It’s taken longer than anticipated but the sale is still going to happen. Meantime, Huron Earth Deli’s doors are still open with a limited inventory, including its near legendary crawfish chowder.
The new owners, by the way, will be also operating a food-related business on the site. That’s good news for the neighborhood, certainly a better choice than a dental office or an auto supply shop. Or a bar.
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