ESCANABA - Dock and pier expansions underway at an Escanaba shipyard are expected to develop the region's future economy, according to a company representative.
Basic Marine, Inc., at 440 N. 10th St., is extending its dock and pier in Little Bay de Noc and plans to dredge to accommodate larger ships to the area, said Lyle Berro, business development manager for the company.
"Once it's completed... it's going to be a gem," Berro told Escanaba City Council which approved a tax abatement for the business during its regular meeting Thursday.
Last March, council approved a 30-acre water/bottomsland area be designated as an industrial development district, allowing Basic Marine to apply for an Industrial Facilities Tax (IFT) Abatement.
IFT legislation promotes the expansion of industrial properties within the state. Benefits to the property owner include a reduction of annual local property taxes for new construction for up to 12 years.
City Assessor Daina Norden explained to council that Basic Marine will receive a 50 percent reduction in taxes for 12 years for its seawall development.
Construction on the dock project began in March. Steel sheet pilings are being put in place along the shoreline to extend the existing dock to about 1,400 feet - the same length of Escanaba's original wooden dock from the 1800's, said Berro.
Construction of the dock is close to completion but work is at a standstill now because of the fish spawning season, he said. In addition, because of Mother Nature delaying construction, the company is also waiting on a permit extension from the Department of Environmental Quality.
Infrastructure will be installed on the land southwest of the dock including electric, storm sewer, regular sewer, and a natural gas line, Berro explained to council. There are also plans to extend the railroad track 1,900 feet into this area, he said.
A 450-foot existing pier, somewhat parallel to the dock, will be extended another 780 feet to where the old wooden piers can be seen in the bay, Berro said. The wooden pilings will be encased and filled in to accommodate for the additional pier length.
Following completion of the dock and pier extensions, Basic Marine will dredge in a seven-acre area between the dock and pier and in a 12-acre area north of the pier.
"We're in the process of applying for grant money to do dredging," Berro told council.
Dredging in the seven-acre area of the bay will increase the water depth from the current 18-20 feet to 28 feet after an estimated 123,000 square yards of sand are removed.
Dredging in the 12-acre area will increase the depth from the current 14-22 feet to 24 feet after approximately 100,000 square yards of sand are dredged out.
The resulting deep water port will allow Basic Marine "to bring in and perform pier-side repairs on larger vessels operating on the Great Lakes," according to Basic Marine's IFT application.
Berro said the company has a great reputation on the Great Lakes for barge towing and repairs. The current dock and pier expansion project will allow Basic Marine to increase its workforce and increase economic development in the city as well as the Upper Peninsula, he said.
"It's moving along. Everything takes time and money," Berro commented after the meeting. He also expressed appreciation for the city assessor's assistance and council's approval of the tax abatement.
According to its website, Basic Marine constructs new ships and repairs vessels. Dry-docking is available for marine repairs. Basic Towing, Inc. offers towing services. Basic Marine currently has more than 2,000 feet of dockside space and 74,000 square feet of fully-equipped fabrication, ship, and warehouse facilities.