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Masonic Center building in downtown Marquette being sold to new Masonic Arts, Theatre, and Innovation Corporation

(WLUC)
Published: Jun. 22, 2020 at 3:51 PM EDT
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The Masonic Center building in downtown Marquette is being sold to a group hoping to make the building a hub for the arts in the city.

Costs were too high for the Masons to keep the building, but they wanted to make sure the building could still serve the community. That's when the Masonic Arts, Theatre, and Innovation Corporation, or MATI, stepped in.

"It took people locally here, as well as myself to create this new entity to keep this as a community asset, this gem of downtown Marquette," said Ryan Engle, building manager for the Masonic Center. Engle helped found MATI and will stay on as building manager after the sale is complete.

MATI, created by a group of Marquette residents with the goal of growing the arts and culture community in the region, plan to transform the building into a downtown hub for arts of all kinds.

"It's kind of like a place where, I see it as like a fertile ground in which art, culture, and innovation can grow," said Nheena Weyer Iitner, board member for MATI and director of the UP Children’s Museum.

The Masons will be staying in the building, occupying a smaller space to fill their needs. MATI hopes that the other current tenants in the building will stay on as well, and work collaboratively with any new tenants.

"It's going to be a journey, but I think it's a really good journey to be on,” said Iitner. “It's a good thing."

MATI is currently working on securing 501 (c) (3) nonprofit status before the purchase can be finalized. At that point, MATI will get to work on renovations. The purchase price, and cost of the renovations are not official at this time.

"It's just things that will make the project long term viable, a boiler, our boilers are from 1968, and the roof hasn't been done in more than 30 years," said Engle.

The folks with MATI hope to have the building sale complete at the end of the year, just in a time for a New Year’s Eve party to open the building.

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