CHOCOLAY TOWNSHIP — They’re calling it the ‘U.P.’s New Must See.’ In a little over a year, Ojibwa Casino Marquette will look completely different.

The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community received approval from the Chocolay Township Planning Commission Thursday night to move forward with their $36 million project. A convention center, two signature restaurants, plus a complete overhaul of the casino’s gaming facilities and more are all part of the plan.

“The Marquette property takes on a whole new life,” said general manager Don Wren. “The casino will double, and then we get a 76–room hotel and a 1,200 arena. We will have all kinds of really exciting entertainment,” Wren added.

Sharon Misegan has been with the casino since the beginning. Misegan, who is the casino manager, says the staff is eager to see the changes.

“All of the employees, especially the long–term employees that have been here with me, we’re very excited,” she said. “We haven’t seen any major renovations since day one, but some paint and some carpet. This has got us really, really excited.”

Ojibwa Casino Baraga will undergo its own set of renovations, consisting of a facelift for the interior and exterior of the building.

“The idea was to completely redesign the properties and bring them into the new millennium, so there’s a much more sleeker, modern feel to the properties and at Marquette it’s a complete rebirth,” said Jim Orr, the marketing director for both casinos.

The beginning phase of construction at Ojibwa Marquette will take place later this summer. Three homes right next to the casino will be moved to other sites.

Then, the expansion begins.

“You look at some of the other properties around here, you can put anybody’s name on it. This is going to be really unique,” said Wren. “When this building is done, it will be completely Ojibwa Casino.”

“We really want it to be a shining jewel in Marquette, something that everyone is proud to come to and bring their friends and family to,” said Orr. “That’s what we plan on delivering.”

The Baraga renovations should be done by next March. Wren has set a target open date of late November, early December for the Marquette location.