ALPENA — Residents in Northeast Michigan can look forward to sipping a Starbucks coffee or shopping at Marshalls and Aldi if planned projects take shape in the coming months.
There is also a possibility a new hotel could be constructed in downtown Alpena at the site of the former Alpena Power Company office on River Street on the Thunder Bay River.
On Wednesday, Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce Economic Development Director Mike Mahler provided an update on projects and what could be in store for Alpena development-wise. He said developers have noticed how downtown is growing and want to be a part of it, as well as the M-32 corridor.
Plans for a single building housing both a Starbucks and a WellNow Urgent Care clinic between Culver’s and the Meijer gas station may come to fruition, Mahler said.
Mahler said the developer will make a request to the Alpena Township Planning Commission to be granted a variance for parking on the site of the clinic and Starbucks. If the township grants the variance, construction could begin this fall and the new businesses could open in the spring.
“They really want to get started,” Mahler said.
If the plan for Marshalls moves to the construction phase, it would be built between Walgreens, and the Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union branch on Bagley Street.
Mahler said the project looks promising, and he has received site plans for the proposed retail store, but there is still environmental work that needs to be done, and other obstacles that need to be cleared before construction could begin.
“We’ve had meetings with the developer. We’ve had meetings with the attorneys, and we have the site plans,” he said. “But it’s not done, until it’s done,” he said.
Over the last year, many businesses have opened in downtown Alpena, and, Mahler said, interest in that part of the city remains high. He said a pair of developers continue to consider building hotels in or near downtown, with one showing significant interest in the former Alpena Power office.
Mahler said the developer is working with a popular hotel chain, but couldn’t share many details because talks are still ongoing. He said more information on the property on the river, and the proposed hotel projects could be released in the coming weeks.
“The former Alpena Power site is a great site, but there are still unknowns about it, like what is underneath the surface and questions about parking. There is a lot of work to do, but there is a lot of interest.”
The second developer considering building a hotel downtown is still looking at property, and Mahler said he passed along some ideas, including land that already has structures on it, which would likely need to be demolished to build a new hotel.
“These developers see what is going on downtown and see the need for more hotels downtown,” Mahler said. “Like I said, this is very serious interest.”