UPDATE:

The NMU Foundation and Veridea Group provide updates on the project during a Marquette City Commission meeting on Monday, May 16.

ORIGINAL:

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The Northern Michigan University Foundation announced Friday that Marquette-based real estate developer Veridea Group has been selected as the master developer on the foundations project to redevelop the former Marquette hospital property near NMU’s campus.

A special committee of the Foundation Board of Trustees chose Veridea Group’s response to the NMU Foundations Request for Qualifications earlier in the year. A special committee of the Marquette City Commission consulted on the decision, and the Foundation board formally authorized the partnership with a unanimous vote Friday.

“The NMU Foundation is gratified to have assembled the partners and resources necessary to bring this transformational opportunity to fruition,” said John List, president of the Northern Michigan University Foundation Board of Trustees. “When our committee issued the RFQ on a national scale in March, we were focused on attracting an experienced developer partner holding the financial capability to perform, a proven record of success working in communities like Marquette and a commitment to completing the entire project vision over a five to eight year build schedule. We are pleased to have Veridea Group as a partner that exceeds these critical elements while also displaying a longstanding commitment to community building in Marquette and throughout the Upper Peninsula.”

The foundation says it received 180 Request for Qualification downloads over a four week period, drawing interest from multiple development firms. The Board of Trustees and Marquette City Commission committees met weekly to discuss common objectives for the project, including the following:

  • Defraying costs associated with site preparation and demolition of obsolete structures;  
  • Public infrastructure development, including reconstruction of College Avenue and other important transitions between the campus and community; and 
  • Other policy goals outlined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) executed between the City, Foundation and the Marquette Brownfield Redevelopment Authority on March 17, 2022. 

Additionally, the foundation has been working collaboratively with the City of Marquette, Marquette Brownfield Development Authority, and Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to identify public resources required for demolition and site preparation. One resource is the framework for a Brownfield Redevelopment Plan, which would enable reimbursement of eligible expenses for demolition, infrastructure development, and other activities through tax increment financing as well as additional investments in site demolition pending all state and local approvals.

“We are excited about the prospect of this transformational development to strengthen the vitality and economic opportunity in Marquette,” said Jen Nelson, Chief Operating Officer at the MEDC. “We appreciate working with the NMU Foundation and city on shared community objectives here in Marquette and coming together to solve the unique challenges and barriers to redevelopment of the former hospital site next to NMU’s campus. MEDC is committed to being a strong partner in activities to enable the viability of this community-driven project.

Results and observations from NMU Foundation public listening sessions will be shared with the community-at-large later this month. Results will also be provided to Veridea Group to inform pre-development planning. The foundation says Veridea Group has also pledged to conduct additional community engagement as part of the development planning process. Additional community feedback may be submitted at any time by email to foundtn@nmu.edu.

The NMU Foundation lists the following as its next steps in the redevelopment process:

  • May 31, 2022 (Tentative): Act 381 Brownfield Redevelopment Plan framework approval;
    tentatively planned for action by the Marquette City Commission. 
  • May 31, 2022: The evaluation period for the agreement between NMU Foundation and UP Health System – Marquette expires.
  • June 29, 2022: Projected closing date for NMU Foundation’s purchase of the College Avenue Campus in the event the Foundation elects to proceed.
  • Timing TBD: Business Entity established between NMU Foundation and Veridea Group to take ownership of the site and redevelopment project. Veridea Group will be the principal majority partner and the NMU Foundation will be an equity partner in the entity.
  • Timing TBD: Michigan Strategic Fund action and approval on Michigan Economic Development Corporation recommendation to invest in site demolition costs. 
  • Timing TBD: Michigan Strategic Fund approval for state and local tax increment financing.
  • Timing TBD per Veridea Group: Pre-Development Planning and Community Engagement Process
  • Site plan development; expected within 6-12 months.

“The process to get to this point has been an effort by many, and we’re glad to be surrounded by others who share the vision we have for this proposed redevelopment; one of a revitalized neighborhood and a real boon to Marquette,” said Bob Mahaney, CEO of Veridea Group. “We have been investing in Marquette for 30 years, and this project presents the opportunity for Veridea to reinforce the strength of its commitment. There is a lot to still be done, and we’re excited to have reached this milestone. We’re looking forward to engaging with the community during next steps, and as we move toward finalizing a site plan. This project is a unique opportunity to enhance the quality of life for NMU students, staff and faculty and residents of Marquette, and it is an opportunity we take seriously.”