Escanaba marketplace officially open

Jenny Lancour | Daily Press Members of the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority, the Delta County Ambassadors, political representatives, the architect, and financial supporters of Escanaba’s new marketplace participate in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday.

ESCANABA — Escanaba has a new landmark in town — the new marketplace, which was dedicated at a ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by the public and several dignitaries under sunny skies Friday afternoon.

About 40 people attended the Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) official opening of the 1,846-square-foot open pavilion with an accompanying outdoor courtyard and stage and enclosed kitchen and restroom facilities, all located on one acre on the 1500 block of Ludington Street.

“It’s really a great venue for our city and something we’re very proud of,” said DDA Director Ed Legault during his opening comments.

The marketplace complex also includes a gas fire pit and parking space for 66 cars and 20 bicycles, Legault noted. Playground equipment has yet to be installed to complete the project, which has been years in the making.

Architect Barry Polzin reflected on the project, which started out as an idea about seven years ago to enhance the former farmers market location on North 9th Street; five years ago, the project started taking shape with the location later changed to Ludington Street.

“It’s really worked out perfect right here,” added Polzin.

Construction on the marketplace began last August with work lasting through December. Much of the pavilion structure and the stage were built prior to crews taking a break for winter. Work resumed in May.

Mayor Marc Tall spoke briefly during Friday’s ceremony, welcoming everyone to Escanaba’s newest landmark, which, he said, the DDA board hopes will be a “hub of activity in the community.”

Legault noted the $1.1 million project would not have been possible without the financial support of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC). In addition to a state grant paying for the playground, other funding sources included a 2 Percent Hannahville Indian Community Grant, an internal loan through the city, a DTE Energy grant, and DDA funds.

Michelle Parkkonen, representing the MEDC’s Redevelopment Ready Communities — a recognition the city recently achieved — said the MEDC is excited about Escanaba’s new marketplace and is proud to invest in the gathering place which will spur economic development.

“We know it will be well utilized. Congratulations,” Parkkonen added.

Tom Casperson’s representative Marty Fittante described the marketplace as “a gem” that will “truly market” Escanaba and continue to transform the city.

Representatives from U.S. Sen. Gary Peters’ office and U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabinow’s office also spoke, both complimenting the teamwork effort that made the marketplace a reality. U.S. Congressman Jack Bergman also sent a certificate of congressional recognition in honor of Friday’s ceremony.

In addition to the agencies that funded the project, Legault thanked everyone who supported the marketplace including the community, DDA board members, city council, Polzin, and Industrial Maintenance Services Inc. (IMS) of Escanaba, the general contractor.

Later, he also gave kudos for his assistant, Judy Schroeder, saying she has been a tremendous asset to the DDA and has helped make the marketplace a success.

Besides the farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the marketplace’s stage is being rented on July 21 for a Bonifas Art Center event. The marketplace will also be the site of Rib Fest during the downtown Sidewalk Sales on July 29.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,