The Lakeshore Drive parking deck was the focus of Houghton’s City Council meeting Wednesday night, both in public discussion and as an agenda item. During the comment period early in the session, developers Jon and Jennifer Julien asked for the panel to consider a proposal that they have been working on for roughly a year. The Juliens want to create a tax incremental funding district, known as a TIF, that would utilize brownfield credits from other projects they are involved in downtown to supplement revenue from a smaller hotel project they would like to complete. Together that funding would provide the financial support to ensure the big parking deck can remain available to visitors of the downtown area into the future. Under the Julien proposal, the City of Houghton would keep control of the property.
The Juliens asked that their outline receive a hearing before the council as soon as possible, which was too fast for its members. Mayor Pro Tem Robert Megowan said he wanted to table the issue for 60 days.
Councilman Mike Needham said it would be appropriate to bring the issue before the city’s planning commission. There was discussion about using a third party to assist in developing the proposal. Needham said he would prefer to trust commission members and City Manager Eric Waara to spearhead the effort.
The rest of the public comment period mostly focused on ensuring that US 41 downtown, Montezuma Avenue in particular, was pedestrian friendly. The council suggested that those concerns be directed towards MDOT who has jurisdiction on the road, and will be engaging in a construction project from College Avenue to Isle Royale Street by 2023.
City Manager Eric Waara will be on this weekend’s episode of Copper Country Today discussing the parking deck issue.