City downtown property sale could be key asset

Right now it’s a parking lot, but it could be much more in five years or so.

The Marquette City Commission Monday approved a resolution allowing City Manager Mike Angeli and City Attorney Ronald Keefe to complete the sale of a half-acre of city-owned property at the corner of Third and Main streets in Marquette to the Veridea Group LCC.

The Marquette-based real estate developer has proposed constructing a five-story, 50,000-square-foot building that will include two levels of underground parking with up to 84 heated parking stalls.

The plan also calls for a ground floor market place with restaurants and coffee shops, plus residential, retail and office spaces throughout the building.

It is estimated the $12 million project will create construction jobs and result in about 150 permanent full-time jobs.

A project of this size, of course, comes with some concerns, one of which is the already crowded parking situation in downtown Marquette.

The current parking lot has 72 spaces. The Veridea project is expected to add 12 spaces, but it also is expected to bring in more people. There’s also the issue of the building’s employees needing a place to park.

It was indicated at Monday’s meeting that much of the project’s parking would be undesignated.

Mona Lang, executive director of the Marquette Downtown Development Authority, expressed some concern about the parking situation. However, she noted this type of project is good for the city since it goes against the concept of urban sprawl.

Lang pointed out that through the years, the city’s parking requirements have forced people to tear down buildings to create parking lots.

This project, she noted, would be the opposite and it would be a taxable one, a point we agree with.

The commission also directed the DDA to determine a spot for another parking facility soon.

Fighting urban sprawl sometimes means building up, not out, and this project’s five stories heads in that direction.

Still, it’s a fairly sizable project, and that means working out things such as parking, possible water runoff and other issues.

Not everyone wants downtown Marquette to turn into New York City, but with proper planning and foresight, the Veridea project could be an asset.