New housing project addresses major need in Marquette area

The aging A-frame structures at Sugarloaf Villas, located along Sugar Loaf Avenue near Wright Street, soon will be history.

That’s sad in a way, but it is expected to make way for new student housing apartments, a site plan of which has been approved by the Marquette Planning Commission.

Proposed by architect and developer Barry Polzin, the project will include five buildings with a total maximum occupancy of about 300. He said the site is prime for Northern Michigan University students who have completed their 2-year on-campus required living and are looking for something close by — but not necessarily on — campus.

Sugar Loaf near Wright is pretty darn close, with the Ripley Heating Plant located across Sugar Loaf and the NMU campus located across Wright.

There will be one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units, with non-students allowed to live there too.

There are expected to be some nice amenities: a study garden, cafe and lounge, fitness center and even a 30-person hot tub. Some buildings will be residential while others will be commercial, with businesses to include a bike repair shop and coffee shop, which undoubtedly will see a lot of traffic from the bicycle-using, java-loving college crowd.

The project will have a modern look but also wooden siding panels, so that should fit in with the rustic area, which includes Tourist Park just down the road on Sugar Loaf.

Construction is expected to start in May, with occupancy to begin in August 2018.

Good-quality rental housing is well sought by everyone, particularly college students who obviously aren’t ready to buy a home yet. They’re not living in a residence for the sheer luxury during their post-secondary education, but decent surroundings certainly help.

In this case, close proximity to campus, a study garden and a fitness center, just to name a few examples, should go a long way to having the project’s residents have a more productive college life.

It appears this new housing development will fill a much-needed void.