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NMU Foundation, UPHS-Marquette close on purchase agreement for old hospital site

Nicole Walton

MARQUETTE, MI— The following is a release from the NMU Foundation:

The Northern Michigan University Foundation and UP Health System - Marquette today announced successful completion of an agreement that transfers ownership of the former hospital site to NMU Foundation from UP Health System - Marquette. NMU Foundation acquired the property for $1 and will receive $4 million. UP Health System – Marquette staff and services currently on-site will remain in the RCN (“Neldberg”) Building and Blood Bank Building as tenants for a term of up to 18 months, which will allow the hospital to finalize details for an alternative location in the Marquette area. UP Health System – Marquette will assume all occupancy expenses.

“Today we’re proud to stand beside partners who have worked diligently and with resolve to transform this concept into reality,” said John List, NMU Foundation board of trustees president. “Closing on this agreement is the result of a growing public-private partnership that achieved several critical milestones required for the NMU Foundation to proceed toward an ultimate objective of achieving demolition of the 23-acre former hospital site. This outcome is a key step toward revitalizing the neighborhood and, eventually, infusing historic investment directly adjacent to campus.”

Since entering into an agreement in late September, 2021, the NMU Foundation has led a growing public-private partnership to move the project to this point, which will now facilitate one of the largest community development opportunities in the Upper Peninsula. These efforts have been supported by the City of Marquette, including Mayor Jenna Smith, City Commissioners, and staff, the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, Michigan Legislature, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Veridea Group, and UP Health System – Marquette, as well as community members through feedback provided at several public forums.

“We would like to share our appreciation for the NMU Foundation and the many community partners who have been instrumental in helping us get to this important milestone,” said Gar Atchison, CEO of UP Health System – Marquette and Market President of UP Health System. “Redevelopment of this site is critical for our shared neighborhood and community, and we are excited to see what comes next as this project moves forward.”

“The demolition of the structures and ultimate redevelopment of the site has been a standing strategic priority for the City,” said Jenna Smith, Mayor of Marquette. “To see this milestone reached is cause for both celebration and continued perseverance toward a finished project. Neighborhood revitalization, added housing, and substantially increased City revenue will all be realized by bringing this project to fruition.”

“In just under a year, the NMU Foundation has aligned relationships and resources necessary to facilitate demolition of the former hospital site," said Brad Canale, NMU Foundation CEO. “These efforts will ultimately enable rebuilding of the neighborhood, which will significantly benefit NMU and the broader Marquette community. Of particular note, nearly 100 individuals from various public and private organizations have contributed to moving this project forward. We possess unlimited goodwill for our collective imperative to succeed.”

The NMU Foundation has established a website to share information about the project to date along with anticipated next steps in one easy-to-access location. Included on the new site is information about the Agreement, as well as public access to reports and documents related to its work of aligning relationships and resources required to facilitate demolition and site preparation of the former hospital site. The website is www.RenewCollegeAveMQT.org.

Next steps in the demolition process include:

● Interior building demolition and hazardous materials removal

● Michigan Strategic Fund action and approval on Michigan Economic Development Corporation recommendation to invest in blight elimination costs

● Michigan Strategic Fund action and approval for economic support as authorized under the Michigan Brownfield Redevelopment Financing Act, including state and local tax increment financing to reimburse Brownfield Eligible Activities, such as demolition, site preparation, and public infrastructure construction

● Site demolition and preparation for redevelopment

Steps toward redevelopment will commence in early 2023 to address pre-development planning, active community engagement, and establishment of a taxable business entity led by Veridea Group to include equity investments through NMU Foundation and other potential partners.

Additional updates will be released as the project continues. Check out www.RenewCollegeAveMQT.org for the latest.

Nicole was born near Detroit but has lived in the U.P. most of her life. She graduated from Marquette Senior High School and attended Michigan State and Northern Michigan Universities, graduating from NMU in 1993 with a degree in English.