IT’S NOW THREE years and counting. Upfront & Company still remains vacant and up for sale.
Oh, there’s been interest–potential local and regional buyers, even interest from overseas, most recently from South Africa, but nobody’s been willing to pull the trigger on one of Marquette’s most valuable downtown properties.
One problem may be the price. It’s remained firm at $3.9 million.
Totally worth it, says realtor Dan Keller, because the property includes not just the restaurant, night club and banquet room but also more than a dozen offices and retail spaces, most of them occupied. Paying tenants.
However, the market seems to be telling us it’s not worth nearly $4 million. Doesn’t seem to matter. Mega-wealthy owner Rhys Mussman appears willing to wait it out.
Which is frustrating to officials and businesspeople who’d like to see downtown given a boost. Frustrating, as well, for music-lovers who remember when Upfront was the primary venue in town for live music.
THERE IS ACTIVITY elsewhere downtown.
Bennett Media Group is moving into the former location of Second Hand Rose on West Washington Street.
Owner John Bennett, an NMU grad, says his two year old company outgrew its offices in the Watermarq Suites and needed to move. The new offices are being renovated and likely will be ready for occupancy by March 1.
BMG provides full service in marketing, video, print, audio, web and graphic design. All local clients for now, but they have plans for expanding their reach.
A further sign of progress: they’re launching a new, improved website within a few days.
IF YOU WERE watching last weekend’s playoff game on WJMN Channel 3, you may have uttered an expletive or two when the picture froze a few times.
According to WJMN execs, that was supposed to be a thing of the past. They’d acquired some new bandwidth to take care of the problem.
Turns out, it wasn’t enough bandwidth.
So now coming up, they’ll be airing that obscure, little athletic contest known as the Super Bowl. You may have heard of it.
Will it too freeze up at the most inopportune times when, oh, maybe 100 million of us are watching the game? Station manager Mark Nebel says no.
The station is now working with two fiber optic cable companies to rectify the problem. And if they’re not absolutely convinced the problem will be resolved, they’ll dispense with the fiber and fork out the money for a direct satellite feed of the game.
Whatever it takes. What they don’t want is a mob of angry viewers on Super Bowl Sunday. A glitch-filled broadcast of a Super Bowl would be a surefire way to ruin a TV station’s reputation.
WJMN HAS FINALLY taken care of another longstanding problem: that anchor vacancy at 11 pm.
30 year old James Fillmore, out of Grand Rapids, has taken the job, several months after his predecessor, Gabe Caggiano, left in a darkening cloud of controversy.
Fillmore most recently worked in the South Bend, Indiana market as a reporter, but wanted to come back to Michigan and wanted to work as an anchor. Bingo. Both wishes were granted.
He’s planning to stay for awhile, and that’s more than lip service. He’s actually shopping for a house to buy in Marquette–a home for him and his blind dog.
Fillmore’s got plenty of experience in the UP. His family has vacationed up here. His interests are outdoorsy–skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, boating. Looks like he came to the right place.
THERE HAVE BEEN rumors circulating in the last week that NMU’s Jacobetti Complex is closing down.
Not true. Not even close, according to university officials.
What is true is that the administration, in collaboration with the faculty, is trying to restructure Jacobetti and redefine its role on the university campus.
They’d like it to be more of a stand-alone entity on the campus much like the College of Business or the School of Art and Design. Right now, Jacobetti is neither.
Jacobetti’s built a substantial reputation over the years–for occupational sciences, continuing education, culinary and hospitality services, cosmetology, aviation maintenance and the like–but administrators feel it still hasn’t reached its potential.
All this comes amid President Fritz Erickson’s recently announced realignment of the university.
And that realignment is, at least in part, the result of concerns about NMU’s declining enrollment in recent years. Every department, every school at the university, ever dollar spent–all are under intense scrutiny.
SPEAKING OF SCRUTINY, take a look down south at Lansing.
That’s where the House’s Tax Policy Committee is now in the process of reworking State Senator Tom Casperson’s “dark store” legislation.
Quick background: In recent years, a bizarre change in taxing policy has allowed businesses, in particular the large box stores, to be taxed as though they were vacant and abandoned. Assessments plummeted, so did taxes paid, and so did revenues to city and townships. And now services provided by the cities and townships are threatened.
Anyway, Republican representative David Maturen of Kalamazoo is heading up the rewrite. And that, according to Democratic Representative John Kivela, is important because:
- Maturen is the vice chairman of the committee and has substantial influence.
- He’s a Republican, which seems to ensure that this is a bipartisan concern
- He’s from downstate which means Lansing no longer considers this a “UP issue.”
Kivela says he senses a shift in the political will on this issue and he’s never been so confident that the legislature will do something about this tax policy that’s threatening services to so many communities.
Kivela, himself, introduced a bill to do away with deed restrictions on large commercial properties that have also driven down tax revenues. That too will be revised, and he expects both of the rewritten bills to be introduced in the House next month.
Don’t hold your breath. Or maybe you should, and cover your eyes. Legislative sausage-making ain’t pretty.
NOW, TO THE elephant in the room–Kivela’s conviction, plea, and sentence for drunk driving.
He got probation and a fine, and now he’s doing his best to move on from one long and embarrassing nightmare. He’s working hard in Lansing especially on the meth and dark store issues, he’s not had a drink since his arrest, he’s attending all his counseling sessions…and he’s planning to run for a third term as State Representative.
No doubts, he says. He wants the job, his constituents have urged him to run again. In fact, not a single person whom he’s met face-to-face has criticized or condemned him. Social media? Well, thats another story.
Still, we’re a forgiving bunch and Kivela appreciates that.
Expect an official announcement from him in the next month or two.
As far as we know, no one else has yet announced for the job.
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