Marquette Centre receives state aid to assist cleanup

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

As the public eye scans upward to admire the progress of the Marquette Tower's refurbishment, the focus of contractors and real estate agents alike is shifting to the low-rise Marquette Centre at 221 N. Fountain across the street.

Last week, the Missouri Department of Economic Development approved an additional $500,000 in remediation tax credits that will help project contractor Prost Builders get started on the Centre. That building's rehabilitation will be the second phase of the two-building Marquette Plaza complex project.

In 2003, the DED approved $785,000 in remediation credits to fund removal of asbestos, lead and lead-based paint from the 76-year-old Marquette Tower as part of Missouri's Brownfield Redevelopment Program. Now the state government has pushed through an additional $500,000 to fund the same substance removal from the Marquette Centre. Prost project manager Bill Whitlow said that asbestos removal will start next week, and lead removal will take place in a month or two.

Whitlow said his company applied for the additional credits with the understanding that they would be approved. The building site had already been accepted into the DNR's Voluntary Cleanup Program.

The Brownfield Redevelopment Program is sponsored by the DED and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources to provide financial incentives for the redevelopment of commercial and industrial sites that are contaminated with hazardous substances and have been abandoned or underused for at least three years.

The Marquette Tower has been vacant since 1971, and the Fountain Street Centre building -- formerly a Southeast Missouri State University printing and shipping building -- has been deemed underused with only a 20 percent occupancy rate.

Marquette Plaza leasing agent Tom M. Meyer said that exterior work has already begun on the Fountain Street building, which will be leased as office and storage space. The only thing currently holding up progress on the inside is a delay on the delivery of the elevator.

This lift will provide better access within the approximately 30,000-square-foot building, which contains two-stories and a basement. Meyer said there is no set completion date for the Centre.

trehagen@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 137

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