Retail Roundup: Could the new Delta campus save downtown Saginaw?

Shoppers walk around the first floor of the SVRC Marketplace in downtown Saginaw, with a wide variety of shops and restaurants to enjoy. August 23, 2019. (Michael Piwowarski/Editor-in-chief)

By Michael Piwowarski, editor-in-chief.

Downtown Saginaw has been making local headlines quite a few times over the summer! From the opening of Delta College’s new Saginaw campus to the unexpected closing of the Bancroft Wine & Martini Bar and the city council’s decision to ban recreational marijuana facilities for a year, there has been some excitement and uncertainty surrounding the downtown area.

Dean Emerson, CEO of SVRC Industries, is still confident that the new Delta College campus will attract more visitors to the downtown area and continue with revitalization and regrowth.

“We [at SVRC] definitely believe in higher education and training for individuals, and Delta coming in and bringing all those students to downtown will be really nice,” says Emerson.

SVRC Industries operates a mixed use facility called the SVRC Marketplace, which is located just two blocks away from the Saginaw center inside the former Saginaw News building. This places students within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants that the marketplace has to offer.

Dean Emerson, CEO of SVRC Industries, is hopeful that the opening of Delta College’s new Saginaw campus will bring much needed foot traffic to businesses in downtown Saginaw, including the SVRC Marketplace. Saginaw, August 23, 2019. (Michael Piwowarski/Editor-in-chief)

“We’ve really had a good partnership with [Delta] and supported them on the open house,” says Emerson. “[…] Our vendors are really excited to see the students from Delta College downtown campus coming over and enjoying the market, definitely.”

Not only does it serve as a potential hotspot for students to come down and shop or have lunch in between classes, but the SVRC Marketplace also provides employment opportunities. As Emerson says, there is a job board at the west end of the building on the first floor, where vendors can post open positions.

The former Saginaw News building, located at 203 S Washington Ave, was purchased by SVRC Industries in 2015. After a lengthy renovation process, the building was reopened as the SVRC Marketplace in 2018. The building hosts multiple vendors – including Sushi Remix, Rebecca’s Gourmet Bakery and Hills’ Cheese – and also provides office space on the second and third floors.

The SVRC Marketplace and the Delta College Saginaw center can both be seen as signs of a resurgence in the downtown Saginaw area. Other new businesses have started to pop up, including Richie Rich’s Downtown Deli, and there are various redevelopments happening in the area.

On the other hand, the said resurgence faced a setback with the Bancroft Wine & Martini Bar closing abruptly August 13 for unknown reasons.

“Definitely disappointed to see that close down; I think that was a place that people enjoyed to go,” says Emerson. “Hopefully, we’ll get another owner/operator in there and they’ll be able to turn it around and do something different and make a go of it.”

With more than 600 students enrolled for classes at the Saginaw center as of August 19, there is hope that increased traffic will indeed help bring forth the revitalization of downtown Saginaw.

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