City, Duke LifePoint to discuss reuse of old hospital

By RYAN JARVI

Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE- In a few years, after Duke LifePoint’s new hospital in Marquette is occupied and operating, what will become of the former health care building on College Avenue?

During a work session scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday in city hall, members of the Marquette City Commission and representatives of Duke LifePoint are expected to discuss the future of the old 307-bed hospital.

The question of what will happen to the enormous structure has been raised by community members since Duke LifePoint announced its plan for a new hospital in the fall of 2014, but officials have yet to give a definitive answer.

Still, with construction of the new facility expected to be completed in late 2018, the old hospital will likely continue to house operations for several more years.

The work session will also include an update on the city’s project to relocate its Municipal Service Center from along Baraga Avenue, the site of Duke LifePoint’s new 265-bed hospital. Construction of the new hospital is anticipated to begin this spring and the city is required to vacate the service center next month.

Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli said Duke LifePoint officials likely want to share their thoughts during the work session and gain input from commissioners on what they would expect for the old hospital.

“They are definitely of a frame of mind to reuse it and do the best they can with it for the community,” Angeli said. “They’re very conscious of the fact they don’t want an empty hulk of a building sitting there.”

Marquette General Hospital, now called UP Health System-Marquette, got its start on East Prospect Street in 1896 as the 12-bed Marquette City Hospital, according to its website.

Shortly after, it grew to a 15- to 25-bed facility on Front Street where the Peter White Public Library stands.

In 1897 its name changed to St. Luke’s Hospital, and by 1907 the need for a larger and more modern hospital to accommodate the city’s growing population became evident, according to the hospital’s website.

After a significant fundraising effort and a major property donation by the Longyear family, St. Luke’s Hospital opened in 1915 on Hebard Court, around where the current facility has expanded.

The Northern Michigan Children’s Clinic was built adjacent to the hospital in 1931, and the Wallace Building, which currently holds most of the hospital’s administrative offices, was constructed four years later, originally as a dormitory for students in St. Luke’s School of Nursing.

In 1973, St. Luke’s merged with Marquette’s other hospital, St. Mary’s, to form Marquette General Hospital. Prior to its ownership being transferred to the state, St. Mary’s Hospital occupied a building on Fisher Street that was renovated into the D.J. Jacobetti Home for Veterans.

In 1979, Marquette General Hospital began building the eight-story South Tower, followed by construction of the East Building on the site of the Children’s Clinic in 1984, the Robert C. Neldberg Building and parking ramp in 1992, the Bridge Building in 2000 and several smaller additions in the years after.

Duke LifePoint acquired Marquette General Hospital in 2012. Under the agreement, which was approved by the state’s attorney general, Duke LifePoint is required to make a minimum $170-million initial capital investment, and a total of $300 million in capital improvements over a 10-year period.

Ryan Jarvi can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242. His email address is rjarvi@miningjournal.net.