Marquette City Commission signs letter for new MGH site

MARQUETTE — The Marquette City Commission has taken a big step toward what may be the city’s most important economic development move in decades.

City staff recently reached a letter of understanding with Duke LifePoint on a new home for Marquette General Hospital. The city would sell the former Roundhouse property and the site currently occupied by the city Municipal Service Center for $4 million. In a special meeting this afternoon, the City Commission voted to approve the letter and to have the city manager complete negotiations for a sale contract.

“The initiatives that we undertook as the City Commission and as a committee working on this project, number one, were to keep the hospital in the city of Marquette,” Marquette City Commissioner Don Ryan said. “That’s been very important to us; we think it’s very important to the citizens of Marquette. They view this as their hospital.”

“This has always been our preferred site, and we have had several locations we were looking at,” Duke LifePoint eastern group president Jeff Seraphine said. “Our first priority is to our patients. Our second is making sure that we continue to maintain the role Marquette General Hospital has played in this community.”

The Roundhouse and Municipal Service Center properties are 37 acres in combined size. Duke LifePoint would invest $280 million in the new MGH and a new medical office building.

“I would suggest that this is probably the most important economic development in the city of Marquette in a century,” Marquette Mayor Pro Tem Fred Stonehouse said.

“This is the second time I’ve been through this,” Marquette City Commissioner Mike Coyne said. “I was the chief of staff of both St. Mary’s and St. Luke’s in 1972 when they merged. In forming Marquette General, the medical care in the Upper Peninsula took a giant leap forward. In 1972, if you went to the emergency room, you weren’t sure whether a psychiatrist or a dermatologist was going to take care of your heart attack.”

Duke LifePoint officials say they’d like to break ground early next year. The new hospital would open sometime in the second half of 2017.

In the commission’s regular meeting tonight, it voted to direct the city attorney to prepare a lease on a new boathouse for the U.P. Community Rowing Club. The boathouse would be next to the Hampton Inn in the city’s Founders Landing area.

The city commission also voted to have a rezoning petition and a planning process started for that land. The rowing club would pay for the boathouse and would have a five-year lease.