Old Lake Shore Iron Works building under demolition

The nearly 130-year-old Lake Shore Iron Works building, shown above and below, located along Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette, is being demolished. The building was constructed in 1890 to manufacture mining, milling and general machinery, according to historical documents. (Photo, courtesy of Daryl T. Jarvinen)

MARQUETTE — The dilapidated nearly 130-year-old Lake Shore Iron Works building near the shore of Lake Superior in Marquette will next week be an empty lot, according to the owner.

The abandoned factory at 955 Lakeshore Blvd. is now more than half demolished.

Built in 1890, it used to manufacture mining, milling and general machinery, according to historical documents.

Situated next to the Earth Ship and Nestledown Bed and Breakfast, it’s currently owned by Lakeshore Residences LLC.

“We had other plans (to develop it) but they ended up being too … costly, because of the labor in Marquette,” said property manager Dan Keller. “In the Midwest, you can’t find anybody to work. … The workforce isn’t big enough for everything that’s going on. Everything doubles, so we’re tearing this down.”

A different view of the Lakeshore Iron Works building located along Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette. (Journal photo by Mary Wardell)

Keller said they’ve owned the property for seven years and still hope to develop it for residential and commercial use.

Lakeshore Residences LLC also owns Chocolay Bayou Condominiums and the UP the Sky planned development in Marquette Township, and the group’s total vision is to put $140 million into Marquette County, Keller said.

Dennis Stachewicz, director of Marquette’s Community Development Department, said for years the property has been in violation of the International Property Maintenance Code, and the city asked that the building either be abated or torn down.

The IPMC requires buildings to be weather-tight to ensure structural integrity, but the old facility had multiple holes in the roof, he said.

“Portions of the roof were actually falling off onto other people’s property,” Stachewicz said, adding that the city’s main concern is with the health, welfare and safety of the public.

Stachewicz said the city has been fielding complaints about the building for at least a year and has been conducting enforcement activity for nearly four years.

Stachewicz’s department had granted an extension on the IPMC violations, under the condition that a fence be installed to bar access to what had become an “attractive nuisance,” Stachewicz said. The property owners submitted a plan to redevelop the property, and the city put a stay on the code enforcement.

But the building “was just too far gone,” Stachewicz said. “A lot of times the idea of renovating it is a lot easier than actually doing it.”

Eventually the city gave a firm deadline to abate the nuisance or the city planned to take action and seek reimbursement, Stachewicz said.

“We get into year four, and that’s when we’re like, ‘No we’re done,'” Stachewicz said. “Fix the roof, do something to make the building weather tight. … I mean they had an option, they could’ve fixed the roof and just enclosed the building, but they decided to tear it down.”

Stachewicz said no further plans for redevelopment have come through his office.

But Keller said he is in talks with several different franchises and hopes to build east-facing residential dwellings with some kind of coffee shop, brewery or restaurant.

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


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper *

Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today