STRANGE, WE’RE NOT hearing much talk about NMU’s plans to remodel and expand the University Center.
It’s a $17 million dollar expansion, complete with a 900 seat banquet facility. That’s a big deal. It could open up a whole new market for the university in a town that’s crying out for more banquet space.
The Board of Trustees recently gave the go-ahead to spend $1.3 million to begin the design process for the expansion.
Not quite a done deal yet, but close.
The funding would come from bonds, loans and university capital resources.
Also in the works? A possible $27 million remodeling of the Jacobetti Complex. That funding needs to be approved by the legislature and is by no means assured.
Still it’s clear that NMU’s administration is not sitting on its hands, although some might question why, at a time of rising tuition costs and declining enrollment, the university is choosing to spend money and expand.
LOOKS LIKE A preservation battle in Negaunee is just about lost.
The Sundberg Building, a brick and sandstone, three story structure listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is slated for demolition,
You might recall that owner Jim Kantola was hoping to transform the building into a brewery, but the money to follow through on the project apparently just isn’t there.
And let’s be truthful. We all love historic preservation but sometimes when the walls and the roof cave in, and nobody’s able to fortify and renovate it, you have to throw in the towel.
The city says it’s a safety hazard and has been for a long time.
Kantola, who bought the building for $2000 over a decade ago, now concedes it’ll probably have to come down.
The question is when and for how much. Kantola will ultimately have to pay the bill.
The city is saying it should come down in the next week or so at a cost of $275,000–that’s the only bid they received to have the job done before winter. A couple of other bids to demolish the building next spring would cost more than $100,000 less.
Kantola understandably wants the delay and is going to court to stop it. The city says it’s required by law to tear it down as soon as possible.
Either way, a piece of history, dating back to 1891, is going to crumble to the ground–unless there’s an 11th hour preservationist rushing in with a boatload of cash..
ANOTHER BUILDING WITH some history behind it, the Mather Inn in Ishpeming, faces a much brighter future.
The onetime center of town and an architectural gem dating from 1931 had fallen upon hard times until three years ago when a couple of sisters, Robin and Teresa Baird, decided to revive it.
This week they held a coming-out party for it.
Gorgeous. Marble floors, Wood paneling. Exquisite light fixtures. Fabulous landscaping. The place looks like it did during its glory years.
It used to be a hotel and restaurant. Now it features 11 occupied, upscale apartments, and 6 more in the works, along with a downstairs lobby with a huge fireplace, a grand dining room, a commercial kitchen, and several other well-appointed rooms. A classic event space for weddings and such.
Will it be the centerpiece of a revived downtown Ishpeming? Too early to tell. But it’s a genuine source of pride for the town and it rivals any of the best historical buildings in the U.P.
MEANTIME, JUST ACROSS the highway, the Country Grill restaurant, formerly the Country Kitchen, has closed down.
Brad Argall, one of the owners of the Country Village development which ran the restaurant, said it just wasn’t making it. Business had been declining for the last six years.
But, rumors notwithstanding, Argall says the rest of Country Village’s 26 businesses are doing fine. Yes, there have been some strategic changes over the last few years–businesses closing and others opening up–but the overall viability of Country Village, he insists, is strong.
The 109 space RV park just had its best summer ever.
So why all the negative whispers about one of the town’s most important developments? Misinformation maybe. Or maybe people just like to talk.
THE “BE LOCAL Buy Local” campaign is gaining some traction.
One hundred businesses in Marquette County are now taking part, and 1200 shoppers are using the app.
The campaign, sponsored jointly by the Marquette and Ishpeming-Negaunee Chambers of the Commerce, asks shoppers to buy at the locally owned stores, take photos of the receipts, and then enter them into a weekly contest.
A $300 gift certificate is awarded to the winner every week until the end of the year. $1200 given out already so far. And then a $1000 gift certificate to the grand prize winner at the end of the year.
How do you ensure that small, locally owned businesses survive and thrive and don’t get overrun by the big money, national chains?
The Buy Local movement is a good start, and it’s alive and well in Marquette County.
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