The first phase of a major redevelopment project in downtown Marquette is poised to begin construction, thanks to a $4.6 million Real Estate Development Project Grant from the state of Michigan.
The grant will be used to help transform the historic State Savings Bank into a boutique hotel, as part of the first phase of a multi-phase project with additional phases to include the construction of a four-story parking structure. The grant was awarded to the Vault Marquette project as part of the state’s Revitalization and Placemaking Program
“We are really thankful for the state support for this project through the (Michigan Economic Development Corporation) and their help in supporting placemaking and revitalization of this area of downtown Marquette,” says Jennifer Julien, who, along with her husband, Jonathan, are behind the project.
Previously, the Houghton couple restored the former Houghton National Bank into a 17-room boutique hotel, The Vault Hotel. The downtown Houghton hotel has garnered national recognition since its opening in 2019.
The Vault Marquette project has been awarded a $4.6 million Real Estate Development Project Grant by the state of Michigan. That grant is part of a much broader Revitalization and Placemaking Program, which, in all, awarded $99.2 million in grants across the state. The grants are awarded in three categories: Public Space Place-Based Infrastructure Awards; Real Estate Development Project Awards; and Subgrant Program Awards. Vault Marquette was the only recipient of the Real Estate Development Award in the U.P. The money is earmarked for the first phase of the project.
What is the Vault Marquette project:
The State Savings Bank on South Front Street will be redeveloped as the Marquette Vault boutique hotel, with commercial space, residential units and a 200-space public parking facility. The first phase will begin construction in the spring. The project includes the bank and former private parking lots that together form an L-shape in downtown Marquette.
The first phase focuses on transforming the State Savings Bank into a boutique hotel. Built in 892, the structure’s exterior and interior corridors have been well preserved. An addition, similar in shape and size, will be built on an empty lot adjacent to the bank building. The space will be used for additional hotel rooms, a spa and a coffee shop on the first floor. That phase is expected to be completed by the fall of 2025. Construction will begin in the spring.
The second phase involves the construction of a 200-space parking structure, which will be contained within the block and surrounded by buildings and not visible from the street, except for a garage entrance. When completed, the parking structure will be owned and operated by the city through a Brownfield TIF program and open to the public.
“The harbor has become so popular, there is a tremendous demand for parking for restaurants and for the use of the park,” says Barry Polzin, the architect hired for the project and who has previously worked on other developments for the Juliens. “Its location is key. It’s a heated, covered parking structure … a premium parking structure that doesn’t exist now.”
Plans also call for the construction of 30-34 apartments on the south third of the parking structure, with a portion designated for attainable housing. Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2025. The north third of the parking structure will be hotel and event space. The center third of the parking building will remain open space, with views of Front Street and green space.
The bank building:
The five-story bank structure – topped by a clock tower – stands as the centerpiece of downtown Marquette, at Front and Washington streets. The bank closed a long time ago and the building has served as office space in recent years. The building was designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1976 and was listed on the National Register of Historic Places two years later. The Juliens purchased the building in 2021. The previous owners did an “incredible job of restoring and preserving the building. All the woodwork is in perfect shape,” Polzin says.
Says Jennifer Julien: “The building was perfectly aligned with our goals for the Vault brand, preserving a historic bank building and activating a downtown area. This iconic bank building is in the center of downtown Marquette and aligns so well with what our brand represents and how we want this brand to be known in the community.”
The Marquette Vault is the third hotel project by the Juliens.
They renovated the former Houghton National Bank into a 17-room boutique hotel. The Romanesque-style structure was built in 1889. The hotel opened in 2019 after 11 months of renovation. They also converted a seven-story building in downtown Houghton into a 111-room Hampton Inn and Suites. That hotel opened in 2021.
Since its opening, the Vault Hotel in Houghton has garnered accolades from near and far. The most recent came from Conde Nast Traveler. The magazine’s readers selected The Vault as the ninth-best hotel in the Midwest. Earlier this year, readers of MyNorth.com, in the annual Red Hot Best Awards, chose the Houghton hotel as among the top three hotels, motels and resorts above the Mackinac Bridge. The other two were on Mackinac Island. Last year the Vault Hotel was featured in a New York Post
travel feature titled “From guns to ghosts: 10 hotels with crazy cool backstories.”
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