MARQUETTE - Crews demolished the vacant Los Tres Amigos restaurant, located in Marquette Township along U.S. Highway 41, on Tuesday to make way for a new Keweenaw Bay Indian Community gas station.
As of right now, the gas station is still in the planning phase, said Larry Denomie, chief executive officer of the KBIC.
Denomie said the tribe has already purchased the land and is in the process of designing the new gas station, adding that an outside company will be hired to conduct a feasibility study to indicate an appropriate size for the station.
Denomie added they are considering adding a retail outlet to the gas station, though there has been no decision made either way on that issue.
The tribe is also currently working on a land-to-trust application for the newly purchased lot, which will then be sent to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
If the BIA approves the application, the land can be placed into trust and construction on the gas station can begin.
BIA approval can take quite some time, Denomie said.
After receiving the application, the BIA puts the application out for public comment. If it has a finding of no significant impact, meaning there is nothing detrimental to the tribe, the application is given more time to receive public comment, after which the BIA makes its final determination.
"If things go as we wanted, we would hopefully be constructing some time next year and construction would take anywhere from three to six months," Denomie said. "But that is very dependent on the land-to-trust process."
Marquette Township Manager Randy Girard said his office had a preliminary discussion with the tribe about two years ago when the KBIC acquired the property. He said the tribe had expressed interest in putting in a gas station similar to the Pines in Baraga.
However, he said the township has received no formal indications since then about construction of a gas station other than demolition permits for the lot which were obtained two months ago.
The tribe hired Associated Contractors out of Marquette to conduct the demolition.
Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.