Lakeshore Boulevard property could sell

City commission approves appraising, negotiating tract

Home Renewal Systems Executive Vice President Jeffrey Katzen, at podium, addresses the Marquette City Commission regarding his company’s interest in developing on a 4.6-acre parcel located along Lakeshore Boulevard near U.S. 41, as the project’s architect, Barry Polzin, looks on. (Journal photo by Jaymie Depew)

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission unanimously approved appraising a 4.6-acre parcel located at the northeast corner of Lakeshore Boulevard and U.S. 41, and passed a resolution allowing the city manager to negotiate a sale of the property to an interested developer.

In April, Marquette City Manager Mike Angeli received a letter from Farmington Hills-based developer Home Renewal Systems, which expressed interest in the currently vacant parcel for a multi-use project. The developers were the lead agency of the project to repurpose the Holy Family Orphanage into the Grandview Marquette apartments, which was completed in November.

Meeting notes state the proposed project is consistent with the South Marquette Waterfront Form-Based Code, and that private investments are anticipated to be between $13 million and $15 million. The property is within two sub-districts, allowing for waterfront-mixed use and traditional neighborhood-commercial residential zoning.

Angeli said the property has been for sale since 2006.

After receiving the letter from Home Renewal Systems Executive Vice President Jeffrey Katzen, Angeli invited Katzen and Barry Polzin, the project’s principal architect, to the commission’s Monday meeting, where Katzen and Polzin presented the agency’s ideas for the property.

“What we’re going to show you here tonight is a concept. It’s kind of what we’re thinking that’ll work in that area,” Polzin said. “Obviously after securing a property, there’s a whole lot of due diligence that has to happen, (such as) addressing the brownfield issues that are down there (and) setting up a development agreement. What we’re looking at … applies with the zoning ordinance currently in place and it meets the master plan and its intentions.”

Polzin said the project would consist of 21-unit townhouses, a hotel and a stand-alone business, either retail, a restaurant or commercial, to be situated closest to the highway. According to the waterfront code, the buildings can be up to three-stories high.

The proposed townhouses and hotel would target people who live and work in Marquette, Polzin said.

Katzen said the homes would be “affordable for the average person” but not on the lower-end.

“They won’t be $500,000 or $600,000 — they’ll be mid-range,” he said.

Polzin added that the units won’t be designed like the condos along Lakeshore Boulevard located north of the parcel.

“They’re not going to be as glamorous (or) as high-end,” Polzin said. “Just a really appropriate style.”

In an interview, Polzin said the brownfield site used to be part of a rail-yard that extended north to the Father Marquette Park area.

A positive aspect of the plan, Polzin added, is that it would create a tax base and they’d be putting housing close to the water where people desire to be.

Polzin, who is also the principal architect for two long parallel structures running perpendicular to the shoreline immediately north of the Hampton Inn, said that specific project is coming together “very well.”

There will be a cafe “that’s really grown into a full-blown restaurant that’s going to go into the first phase,” Polzin said. “Then there are businesses going into a second phase that’ll be kind of along the street in front of the Hampton, so there’ll be offices, retail and probably another food or beverage thing.”

First floor tenants could be able to move in by late September.

During its meeting, the commission commended Polzin and Katzen for their plan, mostly stating it looks like a great idea. However, they were also told to expect backlash from the community.

“We need things on the tax rolls … (but) the public is very protective of the lakeshore,” said Commissioner Sarah Reynolds.

Mayor Pro Tem Frederick Stonehouse said approving to appraise the property is the first step of a “very long process” and that the public will have many opportunities each step of the way to express any concern or interest.