COME BACK TO Marquette Township along US 41 in a year or two, and you might not recognize the place. It’s changing before our very eyes.
A 6000 square foot Fraco showroom is being constructed just east of Gordon Food Service. It’ll be open in early 2018. More land being leveled nearby, and Planning and Zoning Administrator Jason McCarthy says deals with other businesses are in the works. But nothing to announce just yet.
Why locate there? Well, more than 30,000 cars pass by everyday–all potential customers.
Go a little farther west to Brickyard Road, and a Meijer gas station is going up. And of course, behind Lowes, is where the giant Meijer store is under construction.
In the same vicinity, though it’s still not a certainty, developers are hoping to build the upscale Up the Sky mall. And just off the highway, Jandron’s Fine Jewelry recently opened a strip mall where they’ve relocated their store. A wholesale beauty supply business, Cosmo Prof, just opened up next door this week.
And in 2019 to handle all the new traffic, looks like we’ll likely have two roundabouts in the neighborhood–one between Walmart and Target, and the other at Brickyard Road.
The city of Marquette may get all the plaudits from tourists and travel publications, but a ton of money is pouring into the Township.
A BIG VACANCY on Third Street downtown.
Range Bank has closed down its branch office there.
No, no troubles. It’s just that it didn’t make much sense to have a branch located about a half mile away from its bank headquarters at Front Street and Washington. Forty employees work there, it’s the center of operations, and customers were showing a preference to do their business there.
So it made sense.
Range still has six banks in Marquette County, 12 total in and around the U.P. It’s a growing bank with local roots.
About the vacated property on Third Street–it’s up for sale with at least one interested party, but it’s by no means a done deal.
JUST UP THIRD Street, there’s a new neighbor in town.
Actually, she’s an old neighbor. Grew up here, went to Santa Cruz, California, came back, went to Madison, Wisconsin, and came back yet again to open up her new business, KADU Designs.
Her name is Katherine DuVernois, an interior designer who’s setting up shop in the former Curious Cargo location.
DuVernois says she’s a localist, prefers using local materials and craftspeople who are from the area. She’s got an affinity for the Oriental aesthetic, but also loves barn wood, modern, classic…and, well, everything that can make a house or small business look better.
SURPRISING NUMBERS COMING out of NMU.
Enrollment has been steadily declining for the last several years, and we’d been told–by President Fritz Erickson, no less–to expect a continued decline because fewer and fewer students will be graduating Michigan high schools over the next few years. Most Michigan colleges have seen the same trend.
And yet, look at this:
Freshman applications for this fall are up 16% over last year, and freshman “admits” are up 14%. Freshman orientation sessions are up by 100.
The numbers are preliminary but they represent substantial increases that defy the trend.
Why the increases? More effective recruiting and marketing, maybe. Or Marquette’s rising profile.
Or maybe it’s just the glorious, sun-splashed days we’ve been enjoying all spring and summer.
STEADY PROGRESS REPORTED out of Partridge Creek Farm, the community farming project in Ishpeming.
They’ve now expanded to 74 gardening beds scattered around town, growing vegetables of all sorts. Volunteers–a lot of them kids–do the planting, maintaining and harvesting. They also take the produce home, while selling a smaller portion of it at the Farmers Market.
Partridge Creek also has a new office–at 112-114 Main Street downtown–and has hired a new parttime employee to work with the farm manager. Partridge Creek is growing.
The newest gardening site is at the Elks Lodge. Twelve new beds. The Elks are charging them $1 a year to rent the site–the equivalent of a couple of tomatoes.
It’s the start of a promising collaboration between the old and the new in Ishpeming.
The online reviews of Tracey’s, the new restaurant at the Roam Inn in Munising, are absolutely accurate. Travel Advisor lists 57 reviews–53 rate the restaurant excellent.
Tracey’s has some of the traditional foods–a steak, whitefish chowder, cheese curds, fries, etc–but then it also offers up bison short ribs, a watermelon and beet salad, and avocado tartare.
Serious cuisine in a casual atmosphere.
No wonder that more and more Marquette diners are making the 45 minute trek to Munising for dinner.
ALMOST TWO THOUSAND down, more than 6000 to go.
We’re talking about the dollars needed at the GoFundMe site for the Phil Niemisto Pocket Park Statue. The campaign started just six days ago.
If the money’s raised, renowned sculptor Earl Senchuk will be creating a lifesize steel and concrete statue of Phil to be placed at his pocket park downtown.
So what’s the big deal about Phil? Well, he was born here, raised at the Orphanage, and now at age 88, still finds the energy and inspiration to work downtown everyday, all alone, washing windows for the merchants. And taking care of his public garden. Walk downtown and you’ll likely see him.
No life of leisure for Phil. No complaints about what life has dealt him. Just a genuine, unyielding work ethic. A classic Yooper certainly worthy of a statue to be located where, still today, he’s making his rounds.
YOU CAN’T HELP but smile when you see it: the colorful umbrella display at the Rosewood Walkway (next to the Zephyr wine bar) downtown.
One hundred twenty-eight umbrellas suspended overhead. Colorful, whimsical, smile-inducing.
It’s the brainchild of Mona Lang, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority, who saw something similar on the internet in a city overseas. She wanted to do it here and went to VAST Insurance to see if they’d fund it. They said “Sure!” and then the DDA staff designed and built it.
Easy-peasy. It’ll be up until late July.
It’s now the most photographed spot in Marquette.
What’s most gratifying is the collaboration here between the business community and the arts community to create something beautiful. Makes you wonder if we might be able to do this on a regular basis: pop-up art displays. Artists come up with ideas for public art, and businesses step in to make it happen.
It would bring more people downtown, and put more smiles on our faces.
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