Houghton Receives $1 Million Grant from MEDC for Placemaking

Houghton is getting plans ready for the upcoming demolition of the downtown parking deck. While the demo itself has not been scheduled yet, the city has begun pulling together funds. Houghton has agreed to a bond of up to one and a half million dollars for the demolition.

“Essentially passed the resolutions and had the public hearings to obtain a bond, which, you know, we’re gonna take out a loan. Because we don’t just have a million dollars lying around. Now we could’ve taken out a general obligation bond to fix the deck, but the problem is we would have to invest just as much money five years later, three years, whatever. – Eric Waara, Houghton City Manager

Because there are no grants for demolitions, the city had to look elsewhere for cost savings on the total project. With that in mind, Houghton applied for and received a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation for placemaking after demo.

“There were only two of these types of grant given out in the Upper Peninsula, us and I think Negaunee got one for some similar work. Now they don’t have a parking deck, but they have the same challenges we all do with placemaking in our communities. So with the deck coming down we’ve still got that back-alley kind of feel down there. So what these dollars will do there is bring that street corridor back to life. We’re thinking about proper sidewalks, street lighting, green spaces, trees, places for people to be.” – Eric Waara, Houghton City Manager

Waara says the city expects to begin accepting bids on the demo sometime around January with the hope to begin the work around the start of spring. The parking deck was constructed in the 1970’s and since then has struggled to recuperate the money Houghton used to construct it for various reasons including; implementing free parking in the city, lowering parking permit fees and not using space around the city efficiently. Waara added that after the parking deck comes down, Houghton will look into how to optimize parking in town for better convenience and better use of space.