Marquette LDFA, DDA approve interlocal agreement for savings bank renovation despite municipal division | News, sports, jobs

MARQUETTE – The town of Marquette and Houghton-based developer Braveworks are one step closer to converting the historic downtown Sparkasse building into a boutique hotel and four-story parking garage.

The Local Development Finance Authority voted 3-2 on Wednesday evening to approve an interlocal agreement between the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and The Vault Marquette, while the Downtown Development Authority approved the agreement 6-0 at its regular meeting on Thursday morning.

The building proposal presented in May would convert the savings bank building into a hotel with over 90 rooms, a public car park with over 200 parking spaces and up to 40 residential units on the same property. The Sparkasse building, a centerpiece of downtown located on the corner of Washington and Front Streets, would be preserved to preserve its original and historic appearance. Hotel units would be created both within the savings bank building and in a new building connected to the east through a glass atrium. Residential units would be located south of the hotel units, with the parking garage in between. Commercial space, a makerspace and other public improvements would also be included in the development. The estimated cost of the project is $ 21 million plus an additional $ 9.2 million for the parking structure and other improvements. The $ 21 million would be a private investment.

Thanks to the coordination between LDFA and DDA, the project has come one step closer to reality. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday’s Marquette City Commission meeting, and a commission vote is also likely to take place that night to approve the project’s derelict plan.

While the DDA’s decision was unanimous, the LDFA’s was decided by a tie between the chairwoman of the agency, Leslie Hartman. Hartman, Brian Cherry and Jim Hewitt were the three “Yes” Voices, while Daniel Emmendorfer and Margaret Brumm were the two “No.” Vice-Chair Mark Canale attended the virtual meeting but missed the vote due to technical difficulties. Authority members David Raymone, Steve Adamini and Bruce Heikkila were absent.

As a result of the decision, Brumm announced their intention to leave the LDFA. The proposal has also sparked a mass public debate on social media, suggesting Monday’s public hearing could get hot.

Hundreds of comments have been left on Facebook by community members, some of whom support the project, some less. Reasons for the support include the demand for more hotel rooms in the Marquette area and more parking in the city center. On the other hand, many have developed as “Eyesore” That does justice to the affluent and block views of Lake Superior that surrounding businesses are currently enjoying. Some also believe that while the park structure is considered “Publicity,” Most of the seats are taken by hotel guests.

Jen and Jon Julien are the owners of Braveworks. Barry Polzin is the lead architect on the project. All three were present at the LDFA meeting on Wednesday to discuss developments, with the Julien ensuring that most of the feedback they received was positive.

“We actually got a lot of positive feedback on this”, said Jen Julien. “In every big project there are many thoughts and many opinions. We’ve had a lot of calls to our office from enthusiastic people, other business owners in downtown Marquette wanted to attend, so we’re really excited to have support here. “

The Juliens opened The Vault’s Houghton site in September 2019, taking advantage of the historic Houghton National Bank building that opened in 1887.

The Marquette Savings Bank building opened in 1892 at a cost of $ 174,000, according to the archives of the National Register of Historic Places. It was added to the register on September 13, 1978.

The original design of the building was presented “Rock sandstone with smoothly cut posts, above the lintels and sleeper layers made of smoothly cut stone and the rest of pressed bricks” according to a journal article dated April 18, 1891. “Between the windows of each floor there will be a slab of carved stone from bottom to top, and all the ornaments in the block will be carved from stone.”

Polzin ensures that the building is preserved in its historical appearance.

“Our approach for the project is to bend down in front of the savings bank building”, he said. “It’s such an icon. It’s one of my favorite buildings. We saved the orphanage (Grandview Marquette) because I’m a fan of historic buildings, so we will definitely respect and preserve the Sparkasse building through this project. “

The Julien had previously stated that the building’s clock tower would also be restored to working order.

The development required the approval of the LDFA and DDA interlocal agreement as it is located in the tax hike finance districts of each unit. The brownfield plan was approved by the MBRA on June 17th.

Emmendorfer and Brumm voted “No” because of the fact that too many questions went unanswered.

“I only have a few questions left in my head” said Emmendorfer to the Julien. “I am totally for your project. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not here to hinder, I think it’s up to you to make it fail or go. I only have a few questions in my head and (tonight) I just felt like I can’t give you a positive, positive “to go” until they are answered. “

“If you question the need for a new specialty hotel in downtown Marquette, I can think of half a dozen hotels that could accommodate the President of the United States and he would have thought he had a local experience.” Added hum. “Add another hotel to a building to take advantage of its uniqueness and then make it as boxy as possible … you can’t afford to have your relatives stay in it, you can’t afford to park there when it is there is a parking garage. “

Although the purpose of Wednesday’s LDFA meeting was not to vote on the project as a whole, Brumm noted that the dominoes will continue to fall until the city commission’s vote on Monday.

“On this particular project, I’ve never heard negative feedback on anything in the past four years.” She said. “It’s not easy for me. I appreciate being on this committee, but I also can’t stand people saying, ‘We just did this part and it’s up to other people to do their part’ because the snowball is now rolling down the hill . This board just made it easier for the next board to say, ‘Yes, the LDFA said it was okay, so we’re going to say it’s okay.’ When the snowball hits the (city) commission, they will have the weight of these previous decisions behind them. “

The meeting of the city commission on Monday is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the chambers of the commission in the town hall. The public is encouraged to attend in person and make public comments. Written comments are also pre-accepted and are limited to 500 words. Written comments can be sent to [email protected] and will be accepted until noon on Monday.

The meeting can also be viewed at or on Spectrum cable channel 191.

To view the agenda for the meeting, visit

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