Grandview set on fall opening

Renovations of historic orphanage ongoing

Pictured above and below are recent interior photos of construction underway at the affordable housing project Grandview Marquette, formerly the Holy Family Orphanage. (Photos courtesy of Charles La Belle)

MARQUETTE — The formerly abandoned Holy Family Orphanage in Marquette is on track to begin its new life as Grandview Marquette in September, according to developers.

Once finished, the 90,000 square foot apartment complex will serve low- to moderate-income individuals and families with 56 income-adjusted rental units.

“The goal is to have affordable housing in the downtown area so that people have access to the essential services that are offered in the city of Marquette,” said Amy Lerlie, executive director of Community Action Alger Marquette, to the city commission earlier this year.

The renovation, begun in August 2016, has consisted of environmental abatement, a rebuild of the interior and exterior, and preservation and recreation of much of the historic architectural design, including the original chapel inside, which will be used as a public space, according to developers.

Lerlie said the black spruce trees that originally towered in front of the building have been milled and preserved, to be made into furniture for the complex.

A photographic essay documenting the orphanage in its abandoned state was created by photographer Charles La Belle and is available to purchase on his website at labellephotos.com. Another book will be released documenting the renovation process.

A portion of the books’ proceeds will be donated to CAAM for programming.

Lerlie said CAAM is grateful to La Belle, especially with programs such as Meals-on-Wheels — a meal delivery service for senior citizens — on the chopping block in the upcoming federal budget.

Lerlie also thanked the Marquette City Commission for their support in January.

“We are so very grateful to the city for not tearing (the building) down,” Lerlie said. “What a beloved property. None of this would be possible, I would only add, had you not been so cooperative with us.”

Commissioner Sara Cambensy expressed support for the project.

“There’s a lot of people in this community that really never stopped believing that we could save this building,” Cambensy said.

The orphanage was built in 1915 and has been vacant since 1981.

Fourteen units will be reserved as permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless, disabled or those with special needs, who will pay 30 percent of their income in rent, with the rest made up by vouchers through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Vouchers are awarded to qualifying individuals on the condition they are linked with supportive services, to be coordinated by CAAM.

The other 40 units include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments, with rental rates ranging between roughly $275-$625 per month for a one-bedroom to about $380-$870 for a three-bedroom, depending on income and size of household.

The rate structure, based on federal regulations that may be subject to change, is striated for different income bands, including 30 percent and 60 percent of the median income within the city.

The project is the result of a partnership between developer Home Renewal Systems, Inc, based in Farmington Hills; Community Action Alger Marquette; and investors Old National Bank of Indianapolis and InSite Capitol.

HRS development consultant Rick Ballard said the building is technically owned by a limited dividend housing association, a partnership formed by entities representing CAAM, HRS and the investors, with HRS the leading member.

This ownership structure will be in place for 15 years, but the commitments to manage the property as affordable housing are in place for 45 years, he added.

“So if the ownership of the building changes after that time, it won’t really affect how it relates to the community,” Ballard said.

CAAM will ensure tenant compliance, and a management partner, KMG Prestige, Inc, will manage the property, Ballard said.

CAAM is maintaining a call list for the units, taking names, phone numbers and addresses at this time, Lerlie said.

“We have many names on that list and are maintaining contact until we’re able to start processing applications and income verifications,” Lerlie said in an email. “That will happen when we get closer to our projected occupancy date.”

Interested parties should call Lerlie’s CAAM office at 906-228-6523, ext. 208.

Ballard said they don’t expect to have an issue filling the units, and they appreciate the welcoming response from the city.

He expects more creative partnerships to follow due to the proximity of the new Duke LifePoint hospital under construction, he added.

“Institutional employers like hospitals and universities have a wide range of jobs that are available for folks, some of which can be entered with relatively few skills,” Ballard said. “So there’s an enormous opportunity here for some very creative and productive relationships that will create a lot of opportunities for folks, and with the right support. So we’re very excited about it.”

HRS purchased the orphanage in June 2016 from Las Vegas-based Meranto Living Trust, which held the mortgage since 2011 when the property was foreclosed on.

Developers received state approval for low income housing tax credits in July 2015 totaling $1.4 million annually for the next 10 years to help finance the $16 million project.

Developers also secured historic rehabilitation tax credits by having the orphanage placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Low income housing tax credits are awarded by the Michigan State Housing Development Authority to the ownership entity and passed through to investors in exchange for the investment equity, Ballard explained.

“This is an incredibly valuable resource from the federal government, but it is complex,” Ballard said.

Mary Wardell can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is mwardell@ miningjournal.net.