Ishpeming facade program receives final approvals

ISHPEMING – The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has granted final approvals necessary for a $600,000 building facade improvement program affecting four properties in the city of Ishpeming.

The county has been facilitating submission of the Community Development Block Grant application on behalf of the city of Ishpeming. Initially, seven properties were involved in the project, which requires matching funds from building owners.

“Two weeks ago I signed the grant agreement for Marquette County and it’s since been signed by the MEDC which will free up over 400,000 of CBGD dollars to go along with the private investment to make $600,000 approximately of improvements in the city of Ishpeming,” Marquette County Board Chairman Gerald Corkin said Tuesday.

Corkin thanked Marquette County Administrator Scott Erbisch, who spearheaded the county’s efforts to receive the grant, along with county civil counsel Stephen Adamini and Dottie Lewis and Peter Van Steen of the Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission for their work on the grant application.

“It was a lot more complicated than we thought to start with so it took a lot of effort,” Corkin said. “It’s good news for the city of Ishpeming and we’ll see some good improvements.”

The federal grant money being applied for was initially to fund exterior improvements to seven downtown Ishpeming buildings. The property owners were to match the $1.02 million in federal funds requested with at least $664,792 in private investment and at least $8,400 from the city of Ishpeming.

However, in March two participants removed themselves from the project, dropping three buildings from the projects list and reducing the overall project budget.

“The original grant request was for just over $1 million,” Erbisch said in a memo to the county board. “The total adjusted grant request is now $413,490.”

The remaining property owners will contribute a total of $177,848 and the match from the city will be $4,800.

Erbisch said the reason two of the owners pulled out of the project was because they were not far enough along in their facade renovation plans and waiting would slow down the application process for all of the property owners involved.

Erbisch said the grant program would allow the property owners to re-apply in the future.

The three properties removed from the project list are at 112 S. Main St., 120 S. Main St. and the former Mather Inn property, located at 107 E. Canda St..

Properties remaining in the project include those situated at 308 E. Cleveland Ave., 115 E. Cleveland Ave., 121 S. Main St. and 101 N. Main St..

“We are excited to see this go forward,” Erbisch said. “There were some little road blocks along the way and it was a little bit more complicated than anticipated. We’re now here.”

Erbisch said a pre-construction meeting was expected to take place this week with the project participants and their construction teams.

“They are supposed to be under way by Aug. 1 with their construction and I think it’s going to be a real positive thing for the community,” Erbisch said. “We have been given the authorization also from MEDC to incur costs. So, that was the last big step in the process and we’ve met all those milestones. I think everybody is eager, excited and ready to get rolling.”

John Pepin can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206. His email address is jpepin@miningjournal.net.