Downtown IM business gets $335K grant | News, Sports, Jobs

ODDFELLOWS, a NEW restaurant and wine bar under development on Stephenson Avenue in downtown Iron Mountain, has been selected to receive a $334,798 Michigan Community Revitalization Program grant to renovate the building. The project is being done by Menominee Range Investments LLC and Barossa LLC. (Photo by Betsy Bloom/Daily News)

LANSING, Mich. – A new business being developed in downtown Iron Mountain will receive a state grant worth nearly $335,000, state officials announced Monday.

Three community revitalization projects in the Upper Peninsula have been approved for support from the Michigan Strategic Fund, according to a news release from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. The projects are expected to generate a total capital investment of $2.7 million.

“As governor, I am focused on working with someone to grow our economy,” Whitmer said. “Today’s projects will help us make our communities more attractive places to live, work and play by transforming underutilized properties into productive spaces. They demonstrate our continued focus on supporting projects that bring strength to communities in the Upper Peninsula and every region of Michigan to build a foundation for long-term economic opportunity. Let’s keep doing it.”

Menominee Range Investments LLC and Barossa LLC were awarded a $334,798 Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant to substantially renovate a vacant one-story building at 421 S. Stephenson Ave. in Iron Mountain downtown.

When completed, the 4,200-square-foot space will house Oddfellows, a startup restaurant and wine bar. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $832,847 and create 16 new jobs.

MINDY MEYERS, LEFT, program director for the Iron Mountain Downtown Development Authority, presents a $5,000 Facade Improvement grant in October to MRI Properties owner Jesse Land for work done at his building at 421 S. Stephenson Ave in Iron Mountain. The site is slated to have the Oddfellows wine bar and restaurants. (Photo by Terri Castelaz/Daily News)

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The project will not only transform a blighted building into a vibrant and attractive community asset in the heart of Iron Mountain, but will also support other local businesses and drive additional economic activity to the area.

The addition of a unique eatery in the downtown district should also help area employers attract and retain talent in the community.

The Iron Mountain Downtown Development Authority already contributed a $5,000 facade grant to MRI Properties, which owns the building, earlier this fall in support of the project . Iron Mountain is committed to MEDC’s Redevelopment-ready Communities program.

“We are excited to see this new project add to our existing restaurant culture in downtown Iron Mountain,” said Lois Ellis, the executive director of the Dickinson Area Economic Development Alliance. “We appreciate the significant investment that Menominee Range Investments and the MEDC are making, which is creating additional interest and commercial activity that will benefit the entire area.”

In Calumet, Fire Tower Property Group LLC will use a $307,176 MCRP performance-based grant to redevelop a historic two-story building at 104 Fifth St. in the downtown area. When completed, the building will house Fire Tower Engineered Timber, which will maintain five high-paying jobs. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $644,826.

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The 104 Fifth Street building is considered historic but has been vacant and underutilized since a fire in 2021. The building is a contributing resource to a National Register of Historic Places district and to a local historic district.

The project will repair deteriorated and damaged masonry on the exterior of the building, while restoring its historic character. The building’s future tenant, Fire Tower Engineered Timber, is a structural engineering firm that specializes in the design and engineering of timber structures, including historic structures.

The project is within walking distance of a variety of amenities, services, recreation, cultural and entertainment opportunities. More employees at this site will also add to the economic and pedestrian activity on a daily basis.

The village of Calumet provided a $10,000 grant to upgrade the water service. Calumet is committed to MEDC’s RRC program.

“While our historic office building in downtown Calumet survived a fire in 2021 that destroyed the rest of the city block, it suffered extensive smoke and water damage,” said Joe Miller, Fire Tower Property Group manager. “After running the numbers, it would have cost less to build a new space outside of the city center, but the unanimous desire of all our office staff was to stay downtown.”

Also in Calumet, Vianis Realty LLC is rehabilitating a historic two-story downtown building — originally the Baer Brothers Meat Market — into a mixed-use development. When completed, the project will include three residential units and two commercial spaces. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of $1,212,181, supported by an MCRP performance-based grant of $574,648.

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Local support for the project includes a $5,000 Calumet DDA investment in building improvements, and the village providing six spaces in a nearby public parking lot valued at $7,200 over 10 years.

In other Upper Peninsula news, this week the city of Hancock was awarded certification in MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities program. RRC certification status is a convincing indicator that a community has removed barriers to development and simplified processes to be more competitive and attractive to investors.

By participating in the RRC program, communities like Iron Mountain, Calumet and Hancock are well positioned to attract private investment like today’s projects and improve the quality of life for their residents.

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