Grandview unveiled: From abandoned orphanage to affordable housing


Photo by Lindsey Eaton: Formerly lined with mold, asbestos and bird excrement, the once abandoned building has been renovated and reopened as affordable housing.

Trevor Drew

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held and public tours were given on Friday, Nov. 10 to celebrate the end of a $16 million project that restored and transformed the Holy Family Orphanage into what is now the Grandview Marquette apartment complex.

“The Grandview has stood on this bluff in our city—like a rock— pleading with us to give it the new life that it deserves,” said Marquette Mayor Dave Campana. “At the same time, it has been a black eye on our downtown for far too long. The opening of the Grandview Marquette is one of the most exciting days in the past 100 years of Marquette’s history.”

The collaborative project between developer Home Renewal Systems (HRS) and Community Action Alger Marquette (CAAM), is meant to address a lack of affordable workforce housing in Central Marquette.

The drive for this project came from the fact that housing costs in Marquette have increased by 40 percent since 2002, CAAM Executive Director Amy Lerlie said.

Major employers in the area, such as NMU and Marquette General Hospital, have put a lot of pressure on the housing market, Lerlie said. As a result, citizens with a fixed income, such as seniors or young families, are “priced out” of the market.

“What makes it so attractive is Grandview Marquette is in a location where you don’t need a car,” Lerlie said. “[Negaunee Township] is beautiful but it’s not accessible. You have to have a car, probably 4-wheel drive, and it’s not cheap.”

What was previously abandoned since 1981 will now provide affordable housing, offering 42 units with rates of $301 to $642 per month for one-bed and $722 to $879 for a three- bedroom, depending on income and household size.

An additional 14 units will be held aside as supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals or families with special needs, who will pay 30 percent of their income in rent.

On top of support services from CAAM, long-term rent assistance from the Michigan State

Housing Development Authority and in-home medical services through the Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress will be provided to applicable residents.

To some Marquette residents, the abandoned orphanage had a reputation for apparently being haunted, even appearing on a list of Michigan’s most haunted sites, Lerlie said.

“Ghosthunters and folks wanted to go in there and quite frankly, it was actually pretty dangerous,” Lerlie said. “A lot of asbestos, lead paint, toxicity, and not to mention two to three inches of pigeon dung.”

Lerlie said that CAAM was always interested in revitalizing the historic building but was not confident in the follow-through ability of offers it received from different developers, until now.

“That building belongs to the city of Marquette,” Lerlie said. “The people of Marquette love that building and did not want to see it torn down. They wanted someone to come and save it. And the stars aligned.”