Basic Marine wants city property

ESCANABA – The Escanaba Planning Commission tabled a request from a local shipbuilder to purchase an acre of city-owned property on Lake Michigan for $1.

Basic Marine Inc., 440 N. 10th St., Escanaba, submitted the request to the city via an e-mail on Nov. 30, 2013. The item was on the commission’s agenda for Thursday’s regular meeting.

The commission discussed the issue at length then tabled the request, asking for more information on Basic Marine’s progress on its deep water port project underway, explained Chairman Tom Warstler on Friday.

Basic Marine is currently improving the shoreline on property it owns on each side of the city-owned land. Basic Marine, which builds and repairs ships, is restoring docks and the deep water port there to improve and expand its business.

According to Basic Marine’s e-mail: “This would expand the commercial and industrial capabilities of Basic, allowing Basic to bring in and work on larger and deeper vessels operating on the Great Lakes such as cruise vessels and freighters as well as saltwater vessels coming into the Great Lakes from foreign waters.”

If the city was to sell the property, Basic Marine noted it intends to invest approximately $500,000 into the land including sheetpiling along the shore, beautification of the waterfront there, and installation of electricity and mooring equipment.

If the sale is approved, Basic Marine’s total investment in its lakeshore property is anticipated to create 22-25 new jobs mostly in skilled labor trades, according to the company’s e-mail.

The city-owned acre which Basic Marine is interested in buying for $1 has 200 feet of shoreline along Little Bay de Noc and is located north of the county jail.

Warstler said the commissioners discussed several concerns regarding Thursday’s agenda item. In addition to requesting an update on Basic Marine’s work now underway, commissioners would like to see the land for themselves, he said.

“We actually want to see what progress has been made on the property,” said Warstler, adding the item was tabled until next month’s meeting when commissioners plan to tour the site.

Warstler said the development project is consistent with Escanaba’s comprehensive plan to make greater use of the waterfront on the city’s north side.

Concerns were also expressed Thursday about the company’s delay in past projects including an ore freighter that was ordered to be moved from the shoreline for safety reasons years ago, he said.

Decades ago, Basic Marine purchased property it currently owns along 1st Avenue North from the city for $1.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net