MARINETTE — The Marinette City Council Tuesday unanimously approved an agenda item that carries the potential of significant economic impact for the Marinette area by filling in a large commercial vacancy left behind earlier this year when a national big-box retailer shuttered its doors across the entire nation.

A proposal by a Michigan developer, Moyle Real Estate & Development, concerning the former Shopko location on Roosevelt Road prompted the city council to approve an addition to the Marinette Municipal Code MMC 13.2308. That section of the city ordinance delegates various zoning regulations within the city. The change allows for use of “Indoor Climate-Controlled Storage Facilities.”   

The developer plans to convert the rear of the former Shopko building into an indoor climate-controlled storage facility. In addition to the storage facility, the developer also plans to utilize the front of the building as retail space for future expansion.

Shopko closed its doors to the Marinette community and to communities across the country earlier in 2019 after the company filed for bankruptcy in January.

“I think big-box retail (like Shopko and Kmart) as a whole – and not only in this community but across the country – is kind of going by the wayside,” said Andrew Kemper, a representative of Moyle Real Estate and Development. “There are a lot of vacant big-box stores in many communities, especially in our area.”  

The company’s CEO Thomas Moyle carries a resume of successful development within the City of Marinette that includes Country Inn & Suites Motel, the Independence Stay extended stay facility, the Marinette Center of Excellence as well as development outside Marinette, including The Harbors in Menominee. 

Kemper emphasized the significance of continuing to maintain the use of those large buildings, especially in small communities of rural Wisconsin, saying that it can stimulate business opportunity and growth. 

“I think it is a benefit to the communities to have a developer come and maintain those large buildings by being able to utilize self-storage,” Kemper said. “And (our development) will still allow some retail space in the front of the building (for) some smaller, retail-centered businesses to grow.”