Four New Construction Projects Bringing $135 Million into Northern Michigan

Downtown Traverse City (Courtesy/Traverse City Downtown Development Authority)

By Kyle Kaminski

September 7, 2023

The state of Michigan is chipping in $5.6 million in grant funding to help cover more than $135 million in projects in Escanaba, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie, and Traverse City.

MICHIGAN—Nearly $6 million in Brownfield redevelopment grant funding was awarded this week to planned construction projects in Escanaba, Petoskey, Sault Ste. Marie and Traverse City. All told, the projects are set to draw more than $135 million in private investment.

Here’s a quick overview of the four projects:

Hampton Inn in Escanaba

(Courtesy/City of Escanaba)

Developers received a $700,000 redevelopment grant to help turn the old Delta County Jail on N. 3rd Street into an 80-room Hampton Inn. The cash will help cover the disposal of contaminated soil on the property, and also cover a vapor mitigation system for the new hotel.

State officials said the hotel is expected to be finished in April of 2025. 

Michigan Maple Block in Petoskey

Developers received a $1 million grant (and a $1 million loan) to help redevelop the former Michigan Maple Block Company’s manufacturing facility on Standish Avenue into a nine-building development featuring more than 200 apartment units and a variety of new commercial space.

State officials said the company had used the property to build laminated butcher blocks from 1911 to 2020. And as a result, it’s now contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds—which requires some extra cash in order to safely redevelop the site.  

The funding will help pay for the removal of contaminated soil, a vapor mitigation system, and special foundations that are required to build on the unstable ground beneath the old building.

Carbide Dock in Sault Ste. Marie

About $3.2 million awarded through two state grants are set to help put the former Union Carbide Dock—one of the state’s only deep-water ports—back in business by July 2024.

(Courtesy/City of Sault Ste. Marie)

State officials said the old dock was operated by the Union Carbide Company from the 1890s until it was transferred to the city of Sault Ste. Marie in 1967. Because the site is contaminated with metals and petroleum compounds, public access to the site has been restricted since 2016.

About $1 million in grant funding will help with the disposal of contaminated soil, as well as the demolition of underground infrastructure, so the dock can reopen. A separate $2.2 million state grant will help support plans to reduce carbon emissions from ships that are docked at the port. 

West State Street in Traverse City

In Traverse City, developers received a $900,000 state grant to demolish and redevelop six downtown properties on West State Street and Pine Street into new commercial spaces.

The property was used for a variety of uses over the years—including as a lumber yard, blacksmith and livery, auto salvage business, office building, and a dry cleaner. As a result, the soil and groundwater is contaminated with petroleum compounds and dry-cleaning solvents.

State officials said the grant will pay for the demolition of the existing buildings, removal of the contaminated soil, and the installation of a vapor mitigation system. Traverse City and its Downtown Development Authority are also pursuing a $35 million bond to support the project.

All told, the project is expected to add more than 8,400 square feet of commercial space by the time it’s finished at the end of 2028. It’ll also include a 500-space parking garage, which state officials said will make it easier for tourists to enjoy Michigan’s most popular travel destination.

What is a Brownfield Redevelopment Grant?

Brownfield redevelopment grants (and loans) are available from the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy for construction projects that promote economic development and reuse blighted and contaminated properties. The funding can be used for environmental assessments and cleanups at properties with known or suspected contamination. 

Last year, the state provided about $21 million in brownfield funding to 67 projects. 

State officials said the cash is designed to help revitalize abandoned properties and bring them back on local tax rolls, where they can eventually generate tax revenue for local governments. They also serve as a tool to lure developers to otherwise unattractive properties, and help to limit urban sprawl in Michigan by encouraging the reuse of property with existing infrastructure. 

Officials said more than half of the annual budget for the state Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy goes out in the form of grants, loans, and other spending that supports local projects, protects public health and the environment, and creates more jobs for workers. 

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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