Construction in Esky has good year

ESCANABA – Construction in Escanaba ended on a good note last year with 10 new commercial businesses and a new city playground, according to the planning commission’s review of its 2013 activities, presented Wednesday.

“It was a good year,” commented City Manager Jim O’Toole as he presented commissioners the year-end document which council will be updated on at its meeting tonight.

O’Toole reported the city’s zoning permits totaled $12 million on 64 projects with 53 of these projects seeking county permits worth $9 million. The difference is attributed to projects getting ready to start yet or falling through, he said.

The John D. Besse Park was among the new additions to the city. Located on the corner of 8th Avenue South and South 30th Street, the park was funded through the John and Melissa Besse Foundation and dedicated during Escanaba’s Sesquicentennial Celebration in July.

Ten new commercial zoning permits were issued in 2013. Commercial building projects totaled $6.7 million including two new auto parts stores on North Lincoln Road.

AutoZone, Inc., at 405 N. Lincoln Road, is a 6,816-square-foot auto parts store now open for business.

O’Reilly’s Automotive Store, Inc., at 521 N. Lincoln Road, is a 7,735-square-foot auto parts store scheduled to open Saturday.

Two major construction projects which began in 2013 and will continue into this year include Bell’s Upper Hand Brewery and a new rehabilitation building for OSF St. Francis Health Care System.

Bell’s Brewery, of downstate Comstock, is expanding its business to include a 11,500-square-foot brewery and bottling company in the Renaissance Zone at the Delta County Airport. Construction of the building continues through the winter.

OSF is constructing a 14,513-square-foot physical therapy, occupational therapy and office building at 300 Willow Creek Road. Site work took place last year on the property located east of the hospital.

Eight permits were issued for commercial remodeling projects amounting to more than $2 million within the city, said O’Toole.

A major renovation project completed last year included upgrades at the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center. Restrooms and an existing locker room were remodeled and a second locker room was added as a result of funding from the John and Melissa Besse Foundation.

In addition to the above construction projects, eight new residential home permits were issued in the city in 2013. Total value of these new houses was $2,283,800.

Twenty-nine permits were issued last year in Escanaba for residential remodeling projects valued at $714, 752.

There were 18 sign permits and 82 fence permits issued in the city in 2013.

Major projects which the planning commission considered for approval throughout the year also included street and sidewalk repairs, power pole and street light replacements, and downtown building facade improvements.

Looking ahead to 2014, the planning commission agreed to update its five-year capital improvement plan, review portions of the city’s master plan, and consider any necessary changes in the city’s zoning ordinances.

Tonight’s city council meeting begins at 7 p.m. at city hall. Council will receive the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority’s 2013 year-end report. A public hearing will take place to receive input from citizens for the city’s 2014-2015 budget.

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