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State housing director tours area

Stabilization, reuse seen in Calumet

September 7, 2012
By KURT HAUGLIE - DMG writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

CALUMET - Many building owners in Calumet take advantage of loans and grants from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, and Thursday the director of the agency toured some of the buildings benefitting from that funding.

Gary Heidel and other representatives of MSHDA, as well as representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office and Main Street Calumet, took a look at three buildings in Calumet.

The first building looked at was Cafe Rosetta on Fifth Street, where Tom Tikkanen, MSC executive director, and his wife, Babette, showed the office space on the second floor they converted to an apartment.

Article Photos

Kurt Hauglie/Daily Mining Gazette
Gary Heidel, director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority, far right, listens as Tom Tikkanen, Main Street Calumet executive director, points out some buildings on Fifth Street in Calumet. Heidel was in Calumet and other Upper Peninsula communities Thursday to tour various MSHDA-funded and other development projects. Shown center is Dan Schneider, historical architect with the State Historic Preservation Office.

Tom Tikkanen said many of the historic features of the building, such as moldings, wainscoting and window treatments, were either reused or duplicated when they made the apartment.

Heidel said MSHDA officials appreciate when historic features are kept or duplicated as much as possible.

The fact residential spaces are being constructed downtown is also appreciated by MSHDA officials, Heidel said.

"We're seeing rental development in downtown areas," he said.

A large number of people moving into downtown residential spaces are young professionals, and they are driving that market, Heidel said.

The group next looked at the stabilization work being done at the former Paine Webber building on Fifth Street, which Tikkanen said is funded through a partnership of the Calumet Downtown Development Authority and the National Park Service.

The stabilization work on the Paine Webber building will allow it to be put to use again.

"This is going to be a future office or business space," he said.

John Rosemurgy, Keweenaw National Historical Park historical architect, said the work on the Paine Webber building is funded by a $90,000 NPS Historic Structure Stabilization Fund grant, for which he had to compete with other NPS projects.

"I never know from one year to the next if I'm going to have access to (the fund)," he said.

The Calumet DDA paid for removing debris from the building after the roof had collapsed, and for making utility upgrades, Rosemurgy said.

Last on the tour was the former Morrison Elementary School between Seventh and Eighth streets, which developer Mike Lahti is converting to apartments and office space.

Heidel said for being more than 100 years old, the building appeared to be in good shape, and Lahti agreed.

"Structurally, it's beautiful," he said.

There will be office space on the first floor and apartments in the rest of the building, Lahti said.

Lahti said the apartments will be 51 percent regulated rent because he's using some MSHDA funds, and 49 percent market-rate rent.

He's going to keep many original features in the building, including drinking fountains in the hallways, Lahti said. He's not certain if he'll keep the chalkboards in the classrooms, which will be converted to apartments, however.

Lahti said there is much local interest in the work he's doing on the building, and many people who used to attend it when it was a school ask for tours.

Heidel said he often tours MSHDA-funded projects in several Upper Peninsula communities.

"It's to see new projects and how they're going," he said.

In the past, Heidel said MSHDA didn't get involved with large projects like the Morrison building, but the rules governing the agency have changed, and projects like it are funded now.

Heidel said MSHDA has a commitment to help revitalize downtown areas in the state.

"It's not just about houses and businesses," he said.



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