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Plan for food and beverage park moving forward at former Alpena jail site

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Contractors use heavy machinery to tear the roof of the old Alpena County Sheriff’s Office on Monday. In the coming months, small drive-thru locations of Quiznos, Biggby Coffee, and Taco Del Mar restaurant will be erected on the old jail property.

ALPENA — The demolition of the former Alpena County jail on Johnson Street in Alpena commenced on Monday and a plan to build a food and beverage park on the property is moving forward.

The former jail and Alpena County Sheriff’s Office was sold for $229,029 by Alpena County to Alpena Marc LLC, which intends to construct small drive-thru locations of Quiznos, Biggby Coffee, and Taco Del Mar restaurant.

When the project will be finished hinges on a zoning change by the city and how long it takes to clear the site.

Alpena Marc owner Jeff Konczak said the demolition process began later than he wanted because of the amount of asbestos and lead paint in the structure. He said during the demolition, water will be sprayed on the structure to keep hazardous contaminants out of the air.

“It all needs to be removed and taken to the landfill, but that is just how construction goes sometimes,” he said. “It took us a little longer. It could take a couple weeks, maybe three weeks to totally clean up the site.”

Konczak said he has been working with local officials to get the property rezoned to allow for the commercial use. He said the matter could be addressed at an upcoming zoning meeting early next month.

Once that is complete, the project will pick up steam, Konczak said.

“We’re ready to get after it and get this built,” he said.

After Alpena commissioners accepted his bid for the jail, Konczak said that he expects to invest $1.75 million, and estimates 40 to 55 new jobs to be created.

Konczak said the food and beverage campus will also feature a covered outdoor dining area and will be convenient dining options for students and staff at Alpena Community College, people visiting or working at MyMichigan Medical Center Alpena and those attending events at the APlex and Northern Lights Arena among others.

The small, cube-type structures will be produced in Alpena and will resemble the Biggby Coffee in the Meijer parking lot.

The former jail became available after voters in Alpena County approved a 20-year millage to cover the payment of bonds to be used for a new jail built on M-32, near Alpena County Regional Airport.

The new jail opened in 2021.

The old jail project is one of several large construction projects Konczak is leading.

He purchased the former State Theater and intends to return it to the original Maltz Opera House. He also owns the former Vaughn’s store across the street and intends to lease out the space to businesses, including an upscale restaurant and a bakery.

Konczak also purchased the former Royal Knight Theater and the construction of a new theater — known as the Sanctuary Cinema — is underway.

Konczak didn’t provide an update on the downtown projects, but said more information on the new movie theater will come soon.

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