State project to assist with mixed-use redevelopment in Baldwin

What was once a masonic lodge, will bring more jobs, business and housing to downtown Baldwin through a mixed-use redevelopment project. (Star photo/Shanna Avery)

What was once a masonic lodge, will bring more jobs, business and housing to downtown Baldwin through a mixed-use redevelopment project. (Star photo/Shanna Avery)

BALDWIN — Instead of constructing from scratch, reuse of old structures preserves a town's history and brings life once more to vacant business fronts.

For some time, local officials have pinpointed the need for more housing as an issue in Lake County — and thanks to state programming — a project has been approved to help meet the need.

A vacant building in the downtown stretch of Baldwin will be reused and revitalized with mixed-use development, to boost tourism and bring more housing to the area.

Michigan Economic Development Corporation announced two projects in northern Michigan which have been approved by the Michigan Strategic Fund — one providing additional housing in Baldwin, and the other creating 25 manufacturing jobs in Copemish.

The vacant two-story building in the village of Baldwin, located at 876 Michigan Avenue on the east side of the road, will be redeveloped as a mixed-use building with the ground-level used for restaurant space and three residential apartments with a common area on the second floor.

The expected total capital investment of the project is estimated to generate $1.4 million, and is supported by a $450,000 Michigan Community Revitalization Program performance-based grant.

The development is expected to bring further investment to the area, and help cater to more tourism, the number one industry in Baldwin and Lake County, by providing a traditional dine-in restaurant downtown, hence, increasing vibrancy and density.

State Rep. Scott VanSingel (R-Grant) feels the redevelopment is a positive move for the community.

"I am pleased to see the Michigan Strategic Fund recognize the unique needs of this community," VanSingel said. "This project will benefit our community for decades to come by redeveloping a vacant property, addressing our housing shortage, and providing much needed jobs."

The village of Baldwin is on board with MEDC's Redevelopment Ready Communities program, and has approved a 12-year Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act (OPRA) tax abatement valued at $33,629.

"The village is looking forward to the successful completion of this project," said Village of Baldwin President Jim Truxton. "We are excited about the impacts on our downtown. We couldn't have done it without the assistance of the Michigan Strategic Fund and the ability to locally create an OPRA district to give new life to this obsolete property. We hope to inspire other property owners to revitalize their buildings."

Just a jog northwest of Lake County, the village of Copemish in Manistee County, also will benefit from the state programming. M.R. Products, established in 1960, is a leading manufacturer of safety and crowd control barriers. It operates under the name Mr. Chain and has 77 employees currently.

Due to significant growth of the company, they plan to expand into another building in Copemish, a project which will generate an investment of $4.2 million and create 25 new jobs. They were awarded $200,000 Jobs Ready Michigan Grant to support recruitment and job training efforts.

"As we continue Michigan's economic jumpstart, these two projects will help us create good-paying jobs and build more housing in northern Michigan," said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. "We are proud to support the continued growth of M.R. Products, including these 25 new manufacturing projects in Copemish, as well as the renovation of a vacant building in Baldwin to further economic opportunity and boost housing supply in the area."