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Veridea Group to be master developer for former Marquette hospital site

(WLUC)
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:18 PM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University Foundation selected Marquette-based real estate developer Veridea Group as the master developer for the former hospital site on College Avenue.

The NMU Foundation issued a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) on March 11, 2022, which was open to developers of all sizes and locations until April 8, 2022. With 180 views of the RFQ, the foundation formally partnered with Veridea Group. After a consultation with a special committee, the NMU Foundation Board of Trustees authorized the partnership with a unanimous vote on May 13.

“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,” said John List (’84), president of the Northern Michigan University Foundation Board of Trustees.

In addition to the process of selecting a qualified master developer partner, the NMU 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, which is the critical barrier for redevelopment. 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.

Special committees from both the NMU Foundation Board of Trustees and the Marquette City Commission consulted on the RFQ review and selection process. Staff from the foundation and city have convened weekly to address common objectives for the project, including:

  • 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.

With housing being a community-wide concern in Marquette, Veridea Group CEO Bob Mahaney shared what housing plans they have for the redevelopment.

“There’s a strong housing component to the plan with a wide array of housing products. From townhouses to bungalows, to residential rental apartments, housing geared toward young faculty and grad students. There is also a senior living component which we are really excited about,” Mahaney said.

After a lot of engineering and structural analysis, Veridea Group said it plans to demolish every building on-site and rebuild.

In 2019, UP Health System - Marquette had plans to redevelop the campus with Veridea Group. The developer later pulled out.

“When we looked at doing this project several years ago, it was based on the premise that we would be able to repurpose a number of the existing buildings on the campus. When our due diligence showed that was not financially feasible, we had to back away. The current plan does not call for reuse of any of the buildings, and it also incorporates the necessary funding to do the full demolition of the campus. That’s a very significant change,” Mahaney said.

The developer has pledged to conduct additional community engagement as part of the development planning process, consistent with the MOU between the foundation and city. Additional community feedback may be submitted at any time by email to foundtn@nmu.edu.

There will be a Special Meeting of the Marquette City Commission on Monday, May 16 at 5:15 p.m. to discuss the next steps and inform the public regarding the proposed Brownfield Development plan for demolition costs and to pay for the reconstruction of the hospital site.

The next steps in the redevelopment process include:

  • 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.
  • 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 NMU Foundation is expected to buy the former Marquette General campus from UPHS - Marquette for $1 in the Fall of 2021.

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