Home / Featured / Houghton parking deck discussion put into cooling off period
Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

Houghton parking deck discussion put into cooling off period

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.

We are here to determine if there is interest in having conversations about a new proposal for the big deck that can include leveraging the TIF benefits from the projects we have already committed to in downtown Houghton, and without significant transfer of ownership to private developers, thus keeping a majority of the property in the public’s ownership.

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.

I think we have a great team here but we need to start working together and have all the facts. I would really like us to take a break from the lakeshore development, and then come out with a distinct plan for what we are going to propose. For everybody, including the planning commission and all seven members of this council.

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.

I can’t stress enough, we have a good collection of people on the planning commission that I think will determine needs. There’s been a lot of talk about we need to hire outside resources. The prior City Manager and this City Manager lets us know when it is appropriate to bring in additional resources.

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.

Check Also

Dining ban lifts on February 1st

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services hinted at it yesterday, but Friday a …