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New plans in the works for Sundberg Building

October 28, 2012
By ADELLE WHITEFOOT - Journal Ishpeming Bureau ( , The Mining Journal

NEGAUNEE - New plans are in the works for renovation of the Sundberg Building in Negaunee.

Plans now call for the Sundberg Building, which suffered a partial wall and roof collapse in 2010, to be made into a "container building," according to owner Jim Kantola.

He said under the plan, the building will be gutted and then have metal shipping containers inserted into it. Originally, Kantola said he had the structure approved as a historic building by the Michigan State Historic Preservation Review Board so he could apply for grants and tax credits, and then it would be restored to it's original state.

Article Photos

The owner of the Sundberg Building in Negaunee plans to renovate it into a “container building,” which uses large metal shipping containers as rooms. When the building’s roof collapsed in March 2010 and took part of a wall with it, as shown in the photos, the city wanted the building razed but the owner convinced the city council he would repair it. (Journal photos by Adelle Whitefoot)

"We were aiming in that direction," Kantola said. "But they wanted it to be the way it was originally and in order to do that, the cost would be phenomenal and kind of over my budget."

For the past six months, Kantola said he has been trying to significantly reduce the projected costs, and an architect he met with recently came up with the idea for using shipping containers.

"He sees this as a great thing for the area," Kantola said. "He's built them before and it will make the building unlike any other in the U.P."

Kantola said he hopes to have the gutting of the building start as soon as the snow melts in the spring and then the containers brought in by early summer next year.

"I love old buildings and I love fixing them up," Kantola said.

When the building's roof collapsed in March 2010 and took part of the west-facing wall with it, the city of Negaunee wanted it torn down. However, Kantola asked the Negaunee City Council to give him a chance to rebuild it.

"When I first bought the building, I bought it for this exact purpose," Kantola said. "I knew that if something like this happened, the roof collapsing, I knew it would get torn down and the space would sit empty for years. I didn't want that to happen."

Once completed, Kantola said he expects the building to have six to eight apartments and three commercial store fronts. The building will take on a different appearance, but Kantola said he is happy about that.

"I want to change the look of the building and I want it to change the look of downtown," Kantola said. "It's going to be something unique that people are going to want to see."

Adelle Whitefoot can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her email address is



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