An old orphanage that had been vacant for more than 35 years has been transformed into affordable housing in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
One of the most anticipated construction projects in Marquette, the new development recently opened its doors, delivering 56 apartment homes for formerly homeless individuals and others.
The century-old Holy Family Orphanage building, which was used as offices after decades of serving needy children, had been abandoned since 1981. Once rumored to be haunted, the building is well known throughout the region.
The building was in rough condition with trees growing out of it; however, leaders at Home Renewal Systems (HRS), a Farmington, Mich.–based company experienced in affordable housing development and historic rehabilitation, knew they wanted to restore the landmark building even though earlier attempts by others had failed.
“On the first visit, we determined this is something we are going to do,” says Shannon Morgan, senior vice president at HRS, which partnered with Community Action Alger-Marquette, a local service provider, on the ambitious project.
The team had to rebuild much of the structure, which had fallen into a deep state of disrepair. Developers also worked to preserve the historic and design elements that remained, including terrazzo floors, brick walls, and a prominent multistory sandstone front porch. The building’s chapel was restored for use by residents as community space.
All the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical systems have been replaced, and the building meets the Enterprise Green Communities criteria for green and energy-efficient substantial rehabilitation projects.
HRS turned the orphanage into a permanent home for many. Grandview Marquette helps fill the need for affordable housing, with units targeted at residents earning no more than 30%, 40%, 50%, and 60% of the area median income. At least five units will be rented to formerly homeless individuals and families.
In addition, it’s been an important project for the greater community, according to Morgan, noting that more than 1,000 people attended the grand opening in November.
Locals who have grown up seeing and hearing stories about the building shared in the property’s rejuvenation.
“The Grandview has stood on this bluff in our city—like a rock—pleading with us to give it the new life that it deserves,” said Marquette mayor Dave Campana in a statement. “At the same time, it has been a black eye on our downtown for far too long. The opening of the Grandview Marquette is one of the most exciting days in the past 100 years of Marquette’s history.”
The approximately $16.2 million project was financed with about $2.5 million in federal historic tax credit equity and about $12.8 million in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity from investors Old National Bank and InSite Capital, a subsidiary of Chemical Bank. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority awarded the LIHTCs to the project, and the Marquette County Brownfield Authority provided support for environmental assessments of the property. Other partners include Wolverine Building Group, the general contractor, and ASTI Environmental, the environmental consultant.