Snyder, state officials tour Grandview Marquette, former orphanage

Marquette Mayor Dave Campana introduces Snyder at a press meet after his tour of the apartments, and explains the importance of providing affordable housing in close proximity to the downtown area. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials Wednesday morning toured the affordable housing development Grandview Marquette, which is set to open later this fall.

In a press conference, Snyder said the formerly blighted Holy Family Orphanage has an incredible legacy and history, calling the development “awesome” and “pure Michigan.”

“I heard the stories, the more colorful stories which I won’t share, from 1981 on, about what transpired in this facility or in the general vicinity,” Snyder said to laughs. “There is a lot of history here.”

By the end of the year, Grandview will be talked about not only in a historical context, but as home, he added.

“We’re talking (about) a place that will now be a place for people to live, to raise their family in, to have opportunities that they may not have had before. By living here, they’ll have access to opportunities to find work, to hopefully get the skills and training to give them a brighter future and hopefully they’ll potentially move out, to be blunt, into other housing,” Snyder said. “But it’ll provide an access or resource for someone else.”

Snyder speaks with Roger Curtis, Director of Talent and Economic Development for the State of Michigan outside of the Grandview Marquette, which is still undergoing construction. The apartments are intended to give low-income individuals in Marquette easier access to opportunities in the downtown area. The project is expected to be completed this fall. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

Snyder also said Marquette should be proud of its “tremendous comeback,” citing things like the new Duke LifePoint hospital, lakefront developments, the creative community, trail systems and young people.

Mayor Dave Campana said the restoration of the Holy Family Orphanage, built in 1915 and vacant since 1981, has been eagerly anticipated.

“I’m proud to say that in my opinion, it’s one of the most amazing rejection-to-redemption stories in Michigan’s architectural history,” Campana said.

Once finished, the 90,000-squarefoot apartment complex will provide 56 income-adjusted rental units for low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

Fourteen units are reserved as permanent supportive housing for households that are formerly homeless, disabled or those with special needs, who will pay 30 percent of their income in rent.

Campana said the units will be easily walkable to amenities, employment and services; the project qualifies under Enterprise Green Community’s criteria for a green substantial rehabilitation project, and the project has created more than 100 good-paying construction jobs.

“I say that’s a win-win-win scenario that we can all agree on,” Campana said.

The renovation, begun in August 2016, consists of environmental abatement and reconstruction, with preservation of much of the historic architectural design, according to developers.

Farmington Hills-based developer Home Renewal Systems purchased the orphanage in June 2016, after the property was foreclosed on in 2011.

The project is a partnership between HRS, Community Action Alger Marquette, and investors Old National Bank of Indianapolis and InSite Capitol.

The $16 million project is receiving $13 million in low-income housing tax credits through the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, as well as $2.4 million in federal historic tax credits, $750,000 in permanent mortgage and deferred fees, and assistance through the city of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority for environmental assessments, Campana said.

Also present at the tour were MSHDA Executive Director Earl Poleski, Executive Director of the Michigan Department of Talent and Economic Development Roger Curtis, Vice President of Capital Markets at Old National Bank Chip Windisch, Community Development Officer at Insite Capital Jason Blaine, Senior Vice President of HRS Shannon Morgan, Marcus Ringnalda with Wolverine Building Group and Marquette-based Architect Barry Polzin.

Campana thanked them and everyone involved in the project.

“This is truly a Marquette labor of love” Campana said.

Poleski, who was appointed to head up MSHDA in Februrary, said in a separate interview that Grandview Marquette is a public-private partnership in the rawest sense. He said it’s not typical of MSHDA projects.

“(It)’s a project that I think was extraordinarily expensive to develop, but because of its historic background and its local legendary status, I guess you’d say, it became something that finally was done and MSHDA’s quite proud to be involved with that,” Poleski said.

He said it’s built to last centuries and praised the historic restoration.

“If you go in the higher levels and take a look out those windows, you’ll see Lake Superior. It’s a magnificent place, and I wondered as I was there earlier, I said, ‘Why didn’t someone make this market-rate housing? How cool is this going to be and what great views and how beautiful, I would live here,'” Poleski said. “Well, I guess if someone could’ve made it a market-rate place, they would have, before it fell into the state of disrepair into which it eventually fell.”

Poleski said the restoration was too expensive.

“But for public monies, it would not have occurred,” he said.

CAAM Executive Director Amy Lerlie said CAAM is honored to be part of the project and to have the attention of the governor.

“I didn’t imagine two years ago that this project would receive this kind of attention, it didn’t even occur to me. We’re just blessed,” Lerlie said.

Partners around the region have made it possible including contractors, architectural firms, the Marquette Planning Commission and Board of Zoning Appeals, the county and more, she added.

“These kind of projects only work with that broad base of support,” Lerlie said. “Everyone’s got a piece in this project and a role to play, and I’ve said repeatedly, … the stars aligned. The stars aligned on this one.”

Housing applications are available on the website, www.communityactionAM.org.

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


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