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Moving forward

Commission decision allows for Beacon House property acquisition

Shown is a rendering by RG Design Company of Marquette of the new Steve Mariucci Family Beacon House to be located near the UP Health System-Marquette hospital. The Marquette City Commission OK’d various agreements related to the hospital property to allow the Beacon House project to move forward. (Courtesy image)

MARQUETTE — The Beacon House, a Marquette-based hospitality house that provides patients and families facing medical crises with a place to stay, will be able to move forward with constructing its new home near the recently opened UP Health System-Marquette hospital.

The Marquette City Commission at its meeting on Monday unanimously approved amendments to agreements with Duke LifePoint — the owner of the new hospital and associated land — that will allow the hospital to convey a 1.8-acre parcel on the eastern portion of its property to the Beacon House.

Commissioners Fred Stonehouse and Peter Frazier were absent from the meeting. The motion to amend the agreements was made by Commissioner Andrew Lorinser.

“I know intimately that the Beacon House saves lives,” Lorinser said. “And I am so happy for you and so happy to be a part of this decision. I can’t wait for the future.”

For the Beacon House, the commission decision marks the end of a long journey and the start of a new era.

The former Beacon House along Third Street was sold over the summer and the nonprofit hopes to break ground on the new Steve Mariucci Family Beacon House near the hospital this spring, with a grand opening to be held next winter, said Mary Dowling, CEO of the nonprofit U.P. Hospitality House, which encompasses the Beacon House and related services.

“I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you and our City Manager Mike Angeli for helping us to navigate the journey that we’ve been on since the hospital announced its intention to move,” she said. “I consulted with Mike on numerous occasions to ensure that our efforts to sell the former Beacon House and acquire the land from the hospital have been handled in the appropriate manner in everyone’s best interest.”

While the Beacon House’s location will change, its mission will remain the same.

“Beacon House has a longstanding legacy of compassion and caring. Since 2002, the Beacon House has provided over 324,000 overnight stays for patients and families coming to Marquette for a medical crisis,” Dowling said. “So every one of those families has a unique reason for staying with us, but they all have the need to be right next to the hospital, and all who enter our environment are provided with a warm, loving embrace regardless of their ability to pay.”

The approved agreements regard the 37-acre property the hospital sits on, which the city sold to DLP for around $4 million. At the time, a brownfield plan and other agreements were made with DLP.

However, the conveyance of the property from DLP to the Beacon House required amendments to the post-closing and reimbursement agreements — which the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority was a party to and recommended approving at a special meeting on Thursday — as well as agreements between DLP and the city for an easement and special assessment.

The amendments to the post-closing and reimbursement agreements allow DLP to convey land to the nonprofit Beacon House without invoking penalties and assures ownership will return to Duke LifePoint in the event the Beacon House ever ceases to operate on the parcel, MBRA officials said previously.

Specifically, these amendments modify the original post-closing and reimbursement agreements, which would require DLP to repay any remaining unpaid debt service obligations — up to $20 million for city bonds related to the brownfield and tax increment finance plans for the new hospital and relocation of Marquette’s Municipal Service Center — if any of the lands ended up in the hands of a tax-exempt entity.

The other two approved amendments to correct an error in the legal property description and remove the Beacon House parcel from related agreements between the city and DLP, according to city notes.

Overall, city officials are glad to see the process moving forward so that the Beacon House can continue to serve the area, they said.

“It goes back to something as simple as Yoopers taking care of Yoopers. We are our own family up here and we have to take care of each other,” Commissioner Paul Schloegel said. “We have a fabulous hospital, state-of-the-art (facility), amazing employees there. And we’ve got an amazing entity with the Beacon House.”

To learn more about the Beacon House or donate to fundraising efforts for its new location, visit upbeaconhouse.org.

Patients and families needing assistance with lodging can call 906-225-7100 to learn more about Beacon House’s Operation Overnight program.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.