Following last May’s Fifth Street Fire, the Village of Calumet is preparing to court developers to rebuild. Helping with the cause is a $250,000 grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance Executive Director Jeff Ratcliffe discusses improvements needed at the site.
Three buildings were destroyed entirely and a fourth weakened in the blaze. He gave the presentation at December’s Village Council meeting.
Developers will have the final say in what the new structures will look like, but mixed use is a good bet. A vacant cafe and operating laundromat were on the first floor facing Fifth Street. Over 40 people resided in apartments on the upper levels.
Site cleanup was completed last fall thanks to assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency. Rebuilding is possible as early as early as this summer following a competitive bid process. If that plays out, it would happen well ahead of expectations in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
The full release is below.
On May 21st 2021, a fire devastated the 100 block of 5th Street in downtown Calumet, leaving 41 people homeless, 3 buildings demolished and one damaged. Local and state officials immediately began working to determine what tools were available to the community to clean up the site. Early in the process, Representative Greg Markkanen and Senator Ed McBroom reached out to the State Legislature to bring State resources to the project. Thanks to their efforts, the Village of Calumet is now able to apply for a $250,000 Michigan Enhancement Grant that can be used to assist in restoration of the site.
A great deal of work has already been accomplished at the site as a result of Federal and State assistance, from the EPA and EGLE. All of the fire debris has been removed from the site and the site filled with clean material. The EPA will finish topping the site off in the spring to address any settling that occurred over the winter. According to Village of Calumet Manager, Amber Goodman, “While summer will see a site returned to clean, bare ground, there are additional expenses that will be required to create a site that is truly ready for redevelopment.”
Funds provided by the Michigan Enhancement Grant are proposed to be used to reduce costs and provide information needed by a potential developer. First, additional site work will be completed to address issues that were not part of the scope of the environmental clean-up, such as removing remaining foundation walls and creating connections for the water and sewer systems. Environmental assessments, title work and a site survey are also planned. This grant funded effort would cover community visioning for the vacant site and creation of a concept plan that conforms to Village zoning and historic district guidelines, an important tool for a developer in understanding community desires.
The Village of Calumet is working with representatives from the Keweenaw Economic Development Alliance, Keweenaw National Historic Park, Main Street Calumet, and Houghton County to submit the grant application by the January 21st deadline. If approved, activities will begin as soon as this spring.