$18M Munising Marketplace project receives State Land Bank Authority loan

A rendering of the proposed Munising Marketplace
A rendering of the proposed Munising Marketplace(Renovare Development)
Published: Aug. 2, 2022 at 1:02 PM EDT
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MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - The Alger County Land Bank (ACLB) has been approved for a $250,000 loan by the State Land Bank Authority (SLBA) to develop Munising Marketplace, a mixed-use development project led by Renovare Development.

According to a Tuesday morning press release, the $18 million project involves the construction of a three-story building in a vacant lot at the corner of East Superior and Birch streets that will house 36 mixed-income residential units and a collaborative workforce center designed to foster job creation and placement for local workers and businesses.

“The State Land Bank Authority is committed to working on creative solutions for community and economic development in Michigan,” said Emily Doerr, Executive Director of SLBA, in a statement. “When approached about this exciting project, we were eager to come up with a way to provide funding for this development that we know will have a transformative impact on the local community and region.”

Renovare also has plans to renovate the former Munising Fire Hall.

Due to a shortage of housing, Munising has struggled to attract and retain the workforce it needs to support many of its industries, including hospitality, which is its economic mainstay. Local businesses and professional staff at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Hiawatha National Forest, both of which are headquartered in the community, have been significantly impacted.

“The lack of housing is now affecting the ability of employers to expand because they are unable to find housing for workers. The Alger County Land Bank is proud to partner in the development of Munising Marketplace, as we create a long-lasting asset that will serve many generations to come by providing housing and access to job training to attract and retain talent in the UP,” stated Pam Johnson, Alger County Land Bank Chair. “With the support of the loan through the SLBA, we can springboard the funding needed to close the $18 million dollar project.”

Munising Marketplace will drive a comprehensive workforce development initiative that combines job skills training, housing wrap-around services and direct placement to good-paying jobs with businesses within the development. Master-leased and managed by MichiganWorks!, it will include street-level commercial space and a workforce development center on the first floor with on-site coaching, job placement and employer-driven skills training to facilitate tenant employment. Programs will include local apprenticeships, youth training programs, partnerships with schools and universities and collaborations across industry stakeholders, community-based organizations, educational institutions and businesses. The workforce placement program will encourage retail and restaurant tenants to actively participate in direct placement hiring programs offered through the center.

The development will also include workforce housing, with 36 studio, one- and two-bedroom units located on the second and third floors. A portion of the units will be set aside for individuals earning less than 80% of Area Median Income.

“This project presents a unique opportunity for collaboration and leverage of local, state and federal economic development tools,” explains Jill Ferrari, Managing Partner of Renovare Development. “The state and local land banks are providing critical resources needed to move this project forward to construction.”

Renovare Development is seeking New Markets Tax Credits to complete the construction and development of this project. The SLBA loan provided a much-needed resource to fulfill necessary requirements for the tax credits. SLBA remains committed to assisting communities to reach local goals in a wide variety of ways.

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