The Ore Dock BotEco Center

Our goal is to create a special place on Marquette's waterfront that achieves a sustainable balance of educational, recreational and commercial uses.

1) Ecological Education and Research Facilities
2) Year-round Indoor Botanical Gardens
3) Historical Preservation and Education
4) Community Spaces

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • Who are the Friends of the Ore Dock BotEco Center?

The Friends of the Ore Dock BotEco Center is a group of citizens, formed as a non-profit organization, who seek to repurpose an iconic structure in Marquette to the benefit of the public. BotEco = Botanical + Ecological.

  • What does BotEco hope to accomplish?

downloadThe 4 pillars are

  1. Year-round public space
  2. Historical preservation
  3. Venue for ecological education & research related to Lake Superior
  4. Year-round climate controlled green space

Our board realizes that this vision will take considerable time and resources to complete. We hope to accomplish this with a series of phases, beginning with a boardwalk through the center and/or around the exterior and finishing with an enclosed structure, complete with an event space and botanical gardens.




  • How long has BotEco been operating and who is on the board?

The organization was recognized as a non-profit in 2012. Members of the board are drawn from a wide range of interests and specialties. Meet the Board. 

  • Who owns the dock and who would control its operations in the future?

It is currently owned by the City of Marquette and that would continue to be the case in the future. It is possible that operations would be facilitated by a non-profit partner, similar to the arrangement the City has with the local YMCA.

  • What is the City’s plan for the dock?

Thus far, planning has been largely informational and centered around creating a boardwalk or adjacent marina. The City’s Master Plan calls for a visioning process regarding its future disposition.

  • What is the current condition of the ore dock and how much repair is required?

In 2015, The City of Marquette hired GEI Consultants to conduct an analysis of its condition, which revealed that the structure is in excellent condition and could be repurposed in a variety of ways. Spalling of concrete is minimal and the timbers are in good shape. A relatively minimal amount of repair would be required to ensure public safety. Read the full analysis here.

  • What about the Bottomlands Agreement and other regulatory issues?

The Bottomlands Agreement is between the Michigan DEQ and the City of Marquette that specifies that the ore dock may only be repurposed in an “overall beneficial nature [that] is a water dependent use”. It must remain as a windbreak for Lower Harbor and be accessible for public use. Notably, the agreement is open to interpretation and is amendable by an act of the Michigan legislature. A copy of the agreement is posted on the City’s website.

  • What other plans have been suggested for the ore dock and why is BotEco’s plan preferable? 

Several ideas have been presented to the City that would enhance the local tax base, such as condominiums and retail space. Such proposals have not been able to satisfy the Bottomlands Agreement. Our plan has a number of distinct advantages. It would be a multi-purpose facility that retains the iconic and cultural nature of the existing structure and would relate to other historical attractions in the area, such as the Iron Ore Heritage Trail. It would attract tourism that would result in increased profit for surrounding businesses. It would also expand downtown green space and public shoreline and offer a winter refuge.

  • What might the BotEco structure look like?

It would not appear much different from a distance, unless an atrium were added on the top or side of the structure. Up close and functionally, it would be a remarkable transformation that would attract people far and wide.

  • What infrastructure is needed for the facility and how is that feasible in Marquette’s climate?

The amount of heating and cooling needed is completely dependent on how much climate controlled space the community wants to have. As for size comparison, the Superior Dome has more than 4 times the interior volume of the ore dock and is heated through the harshest of winters. Our vision calls for a combination of traditional and innovative sources of climate controls that could possibly utilize wind, solar and geothermal energy.

  • How much will it cost and where will financing come from?

Starting at $4 million for the boardwalk and up to $90 million for full enclosure, none of which would be born via tax increases or municipal bonding. Funding would come from donations, grants and endowments. It is necessary for the City to get behind the initiative to start funding. Once constructed, the facility will be sustained through facility rentals and non-profit endowments.

  • Could BotEco’s plan be modified with additional input?

We are open to an suggestions that fit within our four pillars.