MARQUETTE — The second phase of a large construction project in the City of Marquette broke ground this morning.

“The people who’ve lived her a long time remember this was the site of Bunny Bread, and everyone was very depressed when Bunny Bread left, because it was such an icon,” said Marquette Mayor Mike Coyne. “Well, this is now turning into a similar, very fine icon of the city.”

The closing of the bakery back in 2009 eventually led to the redevelopment of the area at the intersection of Washington and Lincoln Streets now known as Liberty Way. Phase two of the project – a lodging facility named Staybridge Suites – broke ground Wednesday morning. In addition to conventional hotel-type lodging, the new building will house extended-stay lodging for visitors and business travelers who need to stay in town but don’t want to get into a long-term lease.

“The extended-stay lodging segment is the first of our kind in our area, in fact, in the U.P.,” said Veridea Group President Robert Mahaney. “The extended-stay segment is catching on. It’s the fastest growing segment nationwide in the lodging industry, and we think that it has a wonderful future here in Marquette.”

The Veridea Group, which owns the site, is working to reinvigorate the former industrial area with help from various entities.

“The total investment on the Liberty Way campus will be roughly $35 million when it’s completed,” Mahaney added. “Phase two alone is $20 million, roughly. We’ve been very fortunate to have the support – the financial support – in a very meaningful amount from the MEDC [Michigan Economic Development Corporation] as well as having the underlying support of the Marquette Brownfield Authority.”

“We have great partners, and that’s what it is. It’s a great partnership that turns into something like this,” said Sheri Davie, executive director of the City of Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

“We had a blighted former industrial site that has now become a bookend for downtown Marquette,” said State Representative John Kivela. “It’s a great day in Marquette for a project of this magnitude.”

The goal is to have Staybridge Suites open around this same time next year. Phase three of the Liberty Way project is in development, and Veridea hopes to have the entire project done by the end of 2016.