Marquette LDFA and DDA approve an interlocal agreement for the redevelopment of the Savings Bank, despite community divisions | News, Sports, Jobs


MARQUETTE – The Town of Marquette and Braveworks, a Houghton-based developer, are taking one step closer to redeveloping the historic Downtown Savings Bank building into a boutique hotel and four-level parking lot.

On Wednesday evening, the Local Development Finance Authority voted 3-2 to approve an interlocal deal between the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and The Vault Marquette, while the Downtown Development Authority approved the deal 6-0 at its regular meeting on Thursday. morning.

The proposed development, first introduced in May, would transform the Caisse d’Epargne building into a hotel with more than 90 rooms with public parking for more than 200 spaces and up to 40 residential units, all on the same plot of land. The Savings Bank building, a downtown centerpiece that sits at the corner of Washington and Front streets, would be preserved to retain its pristine and historic appearance. Hotel units would be developed both inside the Caisse d’Epargne building and in a new building to the east connected by a glass atrium. The residential units would be found to the south of the hotel units with the parking structure tucked in between. Commercial space, makerspace and other public improvements would also be included in the development. The estimated cost of the project is $ 21 million plus an additional $ 9.2 million for the parking structure and other improvements. The $ 21 million would be a private investment.

The LDFA and DDA votes mean that the project is on the verge of becoming a reality. A public hearing is scheduled for Monday for the City of Marquette Commission meeting, and a commission vote to approve the brownfield plan for the project is also expected to take place that evening.

While the decision of the DDA was unanimous, that of the LDFA was decided by a decisive vote of the President of the Authority, Leslie Hartman. Hartman, Brian Cherry and Jim Hewitt were the three “Yeah” voice, while Daniel Emmendorfer and Margaret Brumm were both “no.” Vice President Mark Canale attended the virtual meeting but missed the vote due to technical difficulties. Authority members David Raymone, Steve Adamini and Bruce Heikkila were not present.

Following this decision, Brumm announced his intention to resign from the LDFA. The proposal also sparked mass debate among the public on social media, hinting that Monday’s public hearing could be heated.

Hundreds of comments from weighing community members have been left on Facebook, some in favor of the project, others less so. Reasons for the support include the demand for more hotel rooms in the Marquette neighborhood and more downtown parking options. On the other hand, many have called the development “horror” that will respond to the rich, blocky views of Lake Superior currently enjoyed by surrounding businesses. Some also believe that although the parking structure is offered as “Public,” most of the spaces will be occupied by hotel occupants.

Jen and Jon Julien are the owners of Braveworks. Barry Polzin is the main architect of the project. All three were on hand at Wednesday’s LDFA meeting to discuss the development, with the Julians ensuring that most of the feedback they received was positive.

“In fact, we have had a lot of positive feedback on this subject”, Jen Julien said. “With any big project, there’s going to be a lot of thinking and a lot of opinions. We’ve had a lot of calls to our office from enthusiastic people about this, other business owners in downtown Marquette wanting to be a part of it, so we’re really delighted that there is support here.

The Julians opened The Vault’s Houghton store in September 2019, repurposing the historic Houghton National Bank building that opened in 1887.

The Marquette Savings Bank building opened in 1892 at a cost of $ 174,000, according to records from the National Register of Historic Places. It was added to the register on September 13, 1978.

The original design of the featured building “Sandstone with rock walls with smooth-cut jambs, above which the lintels and sills will be in smooth ashlar and the rest in pressed bricks” according to an article in the Journal of April 18, 1891. “Between the windows on each floor, from bottom to top, there will be a carved stone panel and all the ornamentation of the block will be carved in stone.”

Polzin ensures that the building retains its historic appearance.

“Our approach to the project is absolutely to bow to the savings bank building”, he said. “She is such an icon. It is one of my favorite buildings. We saved the orphanage (Grandview Marquette) because I’m crazy about historic buildings, so we will absolutely respect and preserve the Caisse d’Epargne building through this project.

It had previously been stated by the Julians that the building’s clock tower would also be restored to working order.

The development required the approval of the LDFA and DDA interlocal agreement due to the fact that it is located in the incremental funding districts of each entity. The brownfield plan was approved by the MBRA on June 17.

Emmendorfer and Brumm voted “no” on the interlocal agreement because there were too many unanswered questions.

“I just have other questions in mind” Emmendorfer says to the Julians. “I am all for your project. I think it’s wonderful. I’m not here to hinder, I think it’s up to you to fail or go. I just have a few questions in my head and (tonight) I just felt like I couldn’t give you a positive, affirmative “to go” until you answered them. “

“When you dispute the need for a new specialty hotel in downtown Marquette, I can think of half a dozen hotels where you could lodge the President of the United States and he would have thought he had a local experience ”, Brumm added. “Add another hotel to a building to take advantage of its uniqueness and make it as square as possible… I cannot vote to put another luxury hotel in a busy area for the people of Marquette to drive by and think they can’t afford to stay there, they can’t afford to have loved ones stay there, they can’t afford to park there if there is a parking structure.

While the purpose of Wednesday’s LDFA meeting was not to vote on the project as a whole, Brumm noted that the dominoes will continue to fall until the city committee vote on Monday.

“This particular project, I have never heard more negative comments about anything in the past four years” she said. “It’s not an easy thing for me to do. I appreciate being allowed to sit on this committee, but I also can’t accept that people say, “We just did this part and it’s up to others to do their part”, because the ball of snow is rolling down the hill now. This tip just made it easier for the next tip to say, “Yes, the LDFA said it’s okay, so we’re going to say it’s okay.” By the time the snowball hits the (city) commission, they will have the weight of those earlier decisions behind them. “

Monday’s municipal committee meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in the committee room at City Hall. The public is encouraged to attend and provide public comment in person. Written comments will also be accepted in advance and are limited to 500 words. Written comments can be submitted to [email protected] and will be accepted until Monday noon.

The meeting can also be viewed on or on the Spectrum 191 cable channel.

To view the meeting agenda, visit

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