Owners look to breathe new life into historic building

Owners look to breathe new life into historic building

NEGAUNEE — Community members gathered in Negaunee Tuesday to get a glimpse at a concept for the restoration of a local building.

“The Sundberg building was a prestigious building when it was built,” said Mike Lempinen, Architectural Designer at John Larson Architects, “and we’d like to make it a cornerstone for revitalization in that part of the town.”

A matching grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation – facilitated by the Lake Superior Community Partnership Foundation – has helped Jim and Ann Kantola, owners of the Sundberg Block in Negaunee, to work with local architects to come up with a concept for revitalizing the historic building.

“We’re super excited for what they’ve come up with, and it’s going to change the face of downtown Negaunee,” said Vikki Kulju, who is consulting with the owners on the project.

Plans call for reinforcement of the structure with a steel frame and restoration of its former storefronts. The roof of the building collapsed a few years ago, which has led to a unique design concept.

“The back of the building will be left open to the elements,” Lempinen added. “There’s going to be a courtyard, and we’re going to retain some of the remaining walls as what we call a ‘ruin.'”

The next phase of the project involves preparing construction and engineering drawings, after which costs and a timeline can be better determined. The Kantolas will be looking at various financing options to pay for the project, but they are not looking to the City for any of the money. They are already exploring the potential for new tenants.

“We are vetting the real estate market with some local realtors right now to truly understand what the potential is for the building,” said Kulju.

“To be able to see that not just get demolished, but get turned into a vital part of the economy, a new business, new renovations, historically speaking, all of that can have a huge impact on downtown areas,” said Kori Tossava, Executive Director of the Greater Ishpeming Negaunee Area Chamber of Commerce.