Lakeshore Drive Corridor Rehabilitation Project

This Page combines all of the information gathered regarding the 1978 Parking Deck and Lakeshore Drive Corridor Rehabilitation including plans, studies, historical data, and meetings, and the original RFQ.  The most current information is provided first with the remaining information on the process following.

Most Recent Information:

Demolition Summary of the 1978 Parking Deck

FAQ’s Regarding the Removal of the Deck

The brochure provides information for parking downtown during construction:  Parking During Construction

The attached list provides information on who to contact during construction for issues that may arise:

Lakeshore Drive Construction Contact List

May 2, 2023 – From the Deck of City Manager Eric Waara:


We’re sure some people are wondering what’s going on with the parking deck and the Lakeshore Drive Corridor Redevelopment Project.

Since the last email, we were able to work with the contractor (MJO) and the engineer on “value engineering” which means we were able to cut some things out and we were able to modify the design on some elements to build them at a lower cost. Last week, the City Council was presented an overall plan which reduced the contract price by change order and added funds to the project to close the remaining gap in the funding. MEDC was not able to increase their funding amount over the $1,000,000 we received under the Revitalization and Placemaking Program rules. The Council approved the plan so the project can move forward. We are just awaiting MEDC’s concurrence with the plan to finalize the contract.

We could go through an exhaustive list of the changes, many of which were simply buying less of some things, but the project scope is still the same:

·     The deck will be removed

·     There will be two parking lots on the ground

·     There will be sidewalks on both sides of Lakeshore Drive

·     There will be two large rain gardens north of Pewabic Street between the parking lot and the sidewalk

·     Around the parking lots will be landscaped and there will be landscaped islands along the south side sidewalks, including trees

·     Street lighting will be installed

·     The pedestrian walkway and gathering area will be built between Michigan Made and the Print Shop

·     That walkway will have a “gateway arch”, overhead lighting, plantings, etc. and will lead to a sidewalk through the parking lot to stairs down to the trail


So, what’s next? In the coming weeks we’ll be able to get a firm schedule and work sequence from MJO so we can start nailing down dates, locations, etc. Soon you’ll be hearing from us on a lot of things like parking, closing of those deck-facing doors, trash collection, delivery access, when the weekly meetings will be, and so on. What we do know at the moment:

·     MJO’s subcontractor who will be doing the demo has an extensive list of experience in demolishing post-tensioned structures like this deck.

·     If everything goes according to plan, they plan to start first with taking that breezeway off the Hall Building and making any needed repairs to the façade where the breezeway was attached.

·     They plan to start deck demolition on the east side. The current goal is to start right after Memorial Day.

·     The west side will stay open for awhile, and then will be demolished after the east side is down.

·     They are expecting that each side will take about 3 weeks to take down. Once the deck is actually down everything as far as access, etc. gets a lot easier.

·     Depending on which side of the deck they’ll be demolishing the waterfront trail will be detoured. When they are working on the east side people will be detoured toward the water and onto the Pier about midway. When they are working on the west half, pedestrians and bikes will need to use the dock until midway.

·     For those of you abutting the deck, the contractor will be sending in people to do a survey of your building to document conditions before the demolition starts.


We might even have more detail on dates, etc. as soon as this week. As soon as we have more information we’ll be sharing it.


And for those who had met with the team from Progressive on April 10 and 11 – they will be circling back around with their observations and recommendations. However, it might be a month or two.


Eric T. Waara, P.E.

Houghton City Manager




Latest Rendering of the Pewabic Street Mobility Improvements 3 ways of getting up and down: sidewalk (still steep), stairs (shortcut), and accessible ramps with placemaking elements. Plaza Rendering 2-22-23


The City was awarded a Revitalization and Placemaking grant, leveraged by the investment to be made by borrowing funds to remove the 1978 parking deck. The grant funds are intended for ground-level improvements along Lakeshore Drive once the deck is removed. The conceptual drawings are becoming more detailed as part of the design work. The project will be bid out late winter 2023. Below is a link to a rendering of what the completed project will look like overall. Until the project is placed out to bid, the engineers and landscape architect will continue to work on the details of the project.

Preliminary Concept Plan January 2022

At the council meeting on February 9, 2022, City Manager Eric Waara presented a power point outlining ways to pay for the removal of the 1978 parking deck and near-term redevelopment of the site following removal of the deck.  The power point is below:

2-9-22 Power point Part 1

2-9-22 Power point Part 2

Following the presentation, the council voted 6-0:  to authorize city administration to move forward with starting the bonding process with our financial advisor and bond attorney for a bond of about $1,000,000 to cover the cost of demolishing the big parking deck and making some repairs to the parking area, then apply to MEDC for a Revitalization and Placemaking grant to leverage the bonded work to further improve the streetscape on Lakeshore Drive, and engage an engineer to develop the plans for the demolition work and a streetscape project.

Pat Coleman of North of 45 presents the results of the public participation events.

Public Engagement Summary Report 1-26-22

Second Public Engagement Night:  The City of Houghton held the second Public Engagement Night on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Attendees reviewed results of the initial community meeting, took a closer look at some of the issues and opportunities identified, and discussed ways to increase use of existing parking, and consider future development potentials.  A copy of the presentation by Pat Coleman is attached in two parts below:

Life After Parking Deck.2 1st

Life After Parking Deck.2 2nd

Pat Coleman discusses results of first public engagement session: 

Copper Country Today, 10/10/21, featuring an interview with Pat Coleman:

A public engagement event was held on WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2021 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm in the conference room of the Bonfire Restaurant at Continental Fire Hall, 408 E. Montezuma Avenue, Houghton.  The event was facilitated by Pat Coleman of North of 45. There were 66 members of the public that took part in the exercise and provided their ideas for the future.  Public Participation Results:  Public Event 9-29-21  Pat Coleman will compile the information gathered on the 29th and prepare for another event scheduled for Wednesday, November 10, 2021.  


At a regular council meeting held on July 28, 2021, the Houghton City Council voted as follows:  move to follow the recommendation of the parking deck subcommittee and the planning commission to the council to instruct the staff and city manager to begin the planning process to remove the parking deck which will be the beginning of some future use of that land.  In parallel, we will be working on what that future is.  The most important part of the future is this deck coming down and engage the planning commission, council, and public along the way.  

At a regular council meeting held on August 11, 2021, the Houghton City Council voted to spend up to $10,000 to hire Patrick Coleman of North of 45 to facilitate 2-3 public engagement events regarding the future of the property where the big parking deck now sits.


Planning Commission Parking Deck Committee Information:

A Planning Commission Parking Deck Committee was formed following a request from the City Council to come up with options for the 1978 downtown parking deck.  The Committee is comprised of Planning Commission members:  Tom Merz, Chairperson, Dan Liebau, Vice-Chairperson, Mike Needham, Secretary, and Eric Waara.  Committee meetings were open to the public.

On July 13, 2021 the committee voted to:  recommend to the planning commission that it recommend to the city council that they begin planning to remove the deck and begin the process for determining what the city wants to do when the deck is removed.

On July 27, 2021, the commission made the recommendation to the council and disbanded the committee.

Minutes from Committee Meetings:

Minutes of 7-13-21 Meeting

Minutes of 6-2-2021 meeting

Minutes of 5-4-2021 meeting

April 20, 2021 Meeting

March 16, 2021 Meeting

Parking Deck Discussion 4-20-2021

Plans and Studies:

Pierce Engineering Report

Parking Study by Walker

Downtown Building Height Information:

Downtown Street Level Detail

Downtown Building Height Evaluation

Downtown Building Height Evaluation PLAN VIEW

Information about Charrette Ready Workshop Proposal as presented to the commission on 3-23-2021

Houghton Charrette Ready Workshop PPT 3-23-21

Parking Deck Condition Assessment from 2011 below:

1978 Parking Deck Assessment Doc 1

1978 Parking Deck Assessment Doc 2

Daily Mining Gazette Articles from the 1970’s and 1980’s regarding the big parking deck are available below:

Gazette Articles 1

Gazette Articles 2

Gazette Articles 3

Gazette Articles 4

Gazette Articles 5

Gazette Articles 6


Restarting the Process in January of 2021:

A special work session of the Houghton City Council was held on January 6, 2021 to discuss the big parking deck.  At the meeting, City Manager Eric Waara read a letter from Veridea Group withdrawing their proposal due to the lack of a formal development process.  Mr. Waara presented a presentation regarding ongoing maintenance costs of the parking deck and costs of replacing the deck so the council can begin a discussion about the future of the deck and property.

Powerpoint of Parking Deck Costs

In the Spring of 2021, City Manager Eric Waara wrote the following letter to the taxpayers of the City of Houghton regarding the big parking deck.  It was printed in two parts in the Daily Mining Gazette.

Letter to Taxpayers


Requests for Qualifications:

In 2019, the City of Houghton sent out Requests for Proposals to choose a developer to redevelop the “Big Parking Deck” on Lakeshore Drive.  Three proposals were received.  After reviewing the proposals and meeting with the developers, the Houghton City Council choose to work with Veridea Group on a redevelopment project. Following are links to the Request for Statements of Qualifications issued by the City and Veridea’s Statement of Qualifications:

RFQ – Final Document

VG Houghton Proposal Final_LR

The City formed the Lakeshore Drive Redevelopment Committee comprised of two members of the council, two members of the planning commission, two members of the DDA, the city manager, one downtown business owner, and a member of the public at-large.  This committee was asked to meet with Veridea Group while they develop a new plan for the redevelopment project and report back to the Council.  The group has met twice with Veridea.  Notes from those meetings are attached:

Combined Committee Reports 09/19/19, 9/23/19, and 10/14/19

Committee Report 1-16-2020

Open House 2-11-2020

A Meeting of the City of Houghton Council, Planning Commission, and DDA/TIFA was held on Tuesday, December 15, 2020 at 5:30 p.m. by remote participation in accordance with Public Act 228 of 2020.

Veridea presented a proposal for the property and there was some discussion. Here is their slideshow:

Veridea Proposal

Minutes of this meeting are here: December 15, 2020 minutes.

On January 6, 2021, the Veridea Group withdrew their proposal because of a lack of a formal development process.

aerial view of the city of Houghton and lift bridge