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Brownfield plan approved for Customs House

The Customs House located at 311 S. Lakeshore Boulevard in Marquette is pictured. (Journal file photo)

MARQUETTE — Tuesday night’s Marquette City Commission meeting was a busy one.

Perhaps the largest talking point was the approval of a brownfield redevelopment plan for Customs House, LLC.

The commission voted 6-0 to approve the plan after a public hearing was held with plenty of discussion along the way.

The Customs House, located at 331 Lakeshore Blvd., is one of the oldest surviving buildings in the city, according to the project summary. It was built in 1870 and served as a heavy equipment supply store for the mining and logging industries. It also served as a U.S. Customs House and a warehouse for Wisconsin Central Railroad after that.

Aside from equipment storage, the building has been vacant and unused for over 100 years.

Customs House, LLC, plans to redevelop the historic building into six residential units, four of which will go into the original building and another two with the construction of an adjacent building.

In turn, the city will purchase a piece of that property from Customs House, LLC, known as the “Baraga Avenue extension” for $47,500. The property currently has an easement with the city, which allows for public use on the property, but is not maintained by the city. The motion to purchase the property passed 6-0, meaning the extension will be incorporated into Baraga Avenue and maintained as a city street.

“This is what we should consider to be the public asset coming out of this process,” City Manager Mike Angeli said. “It will allow us city access and easy access to the piling project into the shoreline and into the boardwalk that’s currently in place there.”

Nicole Gregory, owner of Customs House, LLC, which has worked on development projects for over 10 years, said it is already off to a strong start as far as interest goes.

“We have very strong interest,” she said. “We have several of them reserved already, so the project itself is already off to a great start in regards to interest and the design we used. Existing old sandstone as well as the modern design into it.

“We’re really excited about the project. I think what I’m most excited about personally is that I’m from Marquette. I was born and raised there. So being able to turn that corner from Front Street down to Baraga and to be able to see that property being utilized the way it should be, as well as the Baraga street extension and that last piece that allows the pier to be accessible for everyone in Marquette, I think this is where Marquette has been going for probably 15 or 20 years. It’s really exciting to be a part of that and we appreciate your support.”

The plan was approved by the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on Sept. 17. Plans on when development may begin were not given.

A public hearing was also held regarding a planned unit development amendment with Lakeshore Residences, LLC.

The city first executed a PUD agreement in 2010 with the intent that any home built upon the four parcels of land in question must be developed within six years once purchased from the developer. The Marquette Planning Commission denied the company’s request for an amendment to the PUD by a vote of 5-2, and the city commission concurred with that decision by voting 6-0 on Tuesday.

Two contracts were also approved at the meeting. The commission approved a contract with Donohue & Associates Inc. to provide engineering design services for the State Revolving Fund Solids Handling Improvement Project for an amount not to exceed $475,300.

The development of an SRF project was first approved in May to improve solids handling at the wastewater treatment facility, and the next phase entails design work. The commission voted 6-0 to approve the contract.

The commission also approved an extension of Angeli’s city manager contract through Oct. 1, 2021, passing 6-0.

In other business, the city implemented Halloween trick-or-treating hours and COVID-19 guidelines, and formally recognized Indigenous People’s Day as the second Monday of each October. The commission first formally recognized the holiday in an October 2019 meeting, bringing it to attention again on Tuesday.

Ryan Spitza can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. His email address is rspitza@miningjournal.net.

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