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      Former Sara Lee Bakery location moving closer to redevelopment

      Marquette City commissioners, Monday evening, approved plans for a Brownfield site and a tax exemption for a Washington Street business.

      Marquette's Veridea Group received the green light on a Brownfield Plan to redevelop the former Sara Lee Bakery. It's been sitting idle for years, but passing Monday's hurdle, they say, brings them a step closer to establishing more growth in the community.

      It was phase two in a three-step process. A board of commissioners unanimously passed a $31 million Brownfield Plan to turn the site into a 125,000 square foot commercial, retail and residential facility.

      "A Brownfield site isn't like building on a greenfield site," said Carol Vining Moore, chairwoman of the Brownfield Redevelopment Finance Authority."It costs additional dollars to build in a Brownfield site. As a result of that, the only way developers are interested in funding a project like this is to be able to get some of their money recouped."

      Architects and officials from Veridea outlined their plans for the future site. Previously, the building was deemed functionally obsolete, which is how the property snagged its Brownfield status.

      "It's very important for the community for one thing, it's going to increase tax dollars and to a degree that we wouldn't be able to do in any other way without this density of a project," Moore said.

      A site that generates just $22,000 in taxes per year would generate more than $1 million. Moore estimates a total of $14 million would be recouped over the next 21 years. That money will be used to pay back developers for additional costs including demolition and underground parking.

      "It's an investment in our community, and communities need to do that from time to time," said Mayor John Kivela. "I think it sends a message to other people looking to develop that we're open for business in Marquette, we welcome your projects, we'll work with you to do what we can to put good projects in the city."

      The final step of the process before groundbreaking will come at the end of August when the mega board will meet and decide on the plan in Lansing. The Board of Commissioners also approved a five year tax abatement in the relocation of the Marquette Food Co-op from Baraga Avenue to Washington Street.