Plans for orphanage moving forward

Plans for orphanage moving forward

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission held a special meeting Friday morning to discuss the Holy Family Orphanage and an ordinance that will be the next building block in getting the facility converted into affordable housing.

“Affordable housing in the City of Marquette has consistently been a challenge for low–income and single individuals,” said Sharon Kivikko, Executive Director of the Marquette Housing Commission.

The ordinance passed unanimously by the Marquette City Commission may be one step in helping to curb that challenge. Ordinance 625 permits a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT, for the development of affordable housing by Home Renewal Systems, LLC, at the old Holy Family Orphanage — dubbed “The Grandview Marquette” by developers — on Altamont Street.

“PILT is a way that allows the non–profit to pay a lesser amount to help pay for the services that they use, like the police and the fire and paving the street and plowing the street,” said City of Marquette Mayor Mike Coyne.

“What it does is it ties the payment of what essentially is a service charge instead of a property tax, per se, but it ties it to the income that the property receives through its rent revenue rather than based on the millage of the community, and so it provides for a controlled process and a predictable process for what that payment will be in the overall operating expenses of the property for the entire time that the building is restricted by its income limits,” said Gary Scheuren, a consultant for the developer.

The city allowing for the PILT is just one of several things that need to happen in order for the project to advance.

“So our next immediate step is to submit our application to MSHDA for the low income housing tax credits,” added Scheuren. “That approval process takes about three months, so there will be a little bit of a waiting time between submission of that application and the green light to proceed.”

After that, the investigation and design processes will be completed, construction will be bid out, and financing for the $15 million project will be put together with a goal of starting construction by year’s end. In addition to providing 56 affordable apartments for low–income families while eliminating blight, a goal of the renovation is to preserve the building’s historic value.

“We’re going to do a complete restoration of the exterior,” said Marquette architect Barry Polzin. “It’s going to look just like it did when it was constructed, and the nice thing is, all of the material is there. It really hasn’t deteriorated to the point where things are missing or things have been done to it through the years, so it’s a very easy project from that standpoint, but it’s a very massive project, too.”

If all goes according to plan, the developers hope to have the Grandview Marquette up and running by 2017.