Retail Roundup: Top 5 local redevelopments of the 2010s

 

The City Market opened in 2017 in downtown Bay City, and hosts a variety of vendors in the remodeled JC Penney building on Center Ave. (Collegiate/File/Kelly Winters)

By Michael Piwowarski, editor-in-chief.

Just because a building closes down or gets demolished, doesn’t mean that the facility – or what’s left of it – will never be used again. Right here in the tri-city area, redevelopments have been happening all over the place. Old buildings, abandoned factories and shopping malls on life support are fair game for something new to pop up. Here are five notable instances of that happening in the Saginaw, Bay and Midland counties.

 

5. Hampton Town Centre (Essexville)
The Hampton Town Centre, formerly known as The Hampton Square Mall, first opened in Essexville in 1975 and hosted some major tenants including Kmart, an A&P supermarket and JC Penney. However, when the Bay City Mall opened on Wilder Rd in 1991 about five miles away, the Hampton mall’s days were numbered. The facility had been growing increasingly vacant since that time, with the closure of all three of its anchor tenants. Finally, in 2010, the Hampton Town Centre was closed permanently. Art Dore, a local businessman, purchased the mall the following year, with the hopes of redeveloping it into a mixed-use facility for offices and retail. The building is currently home to the Department of Human Resources office in Essexville, the Do-All thrift store, and other businesses.

4. Mill End (Bay City)
Downtown Bay City was once home to Mill End, a variety store that was stocked with everything from cowboy hats and army helmets, to Carharts and Levis, to fishing gear and camping equipment. The store closed in 2005 after 65 years in business, and the old building was demolished in 2012. However, a new luxury apartment complex stands in its place. Mill End Lofts opened in 2014 and boasts apartment rooms with balconies overlooking the Saginaw River and Wenonah Park, offering potential residents the opportunity to live in the heart of downtown Bay City. The new building is also home to Tavern 101, a Bay City bar offering craft beers on tap and Italian-influenced cuisine.

3. OrganiLife (Chesaning)
Formerly known as the Showboat City, Chesaning may have found a new claim to fame: marijuana. After Michigan voters passed a proposal November 2018 to legalize marijuana, Peet’s Packing, a former meatpacking plant that has been vacant for 25 years after filing for bankruptcy in the 1990s, reopened as OrganiLife, a medical marijuana facility, earlier this year. MLive.com reported in March that OrganiLife has three Class C licenses, which amounts to 4500 plants total. Zach Chludil, the cultivator for OganiLife, told MLive that the goal of opening the new facility was to bring jobs back to Chesaning that were lost when Peet’s Packaging closed.

2. TIE: SVRC Marketplace (Saginaw) and City Market (Bay City)
In an effort to breathe new life into their downtown areas, both Saginaw and Bay City have repurposed old, abandoned buildings to become new marketplaces with a wide variety of vendors. The SVRC Marketplace, located at 203 S Washington Ave in downtown Saginaw, opened in 2018 and brings the former Saginaw News building back to life. Sushi Remix, Rebecca’s Gourmet Bakery, Hills’ Cheese and many more vendors operate on the first floor, while office space is available on the second and third floors. On the Bay City side, the City Market – which opened in 2017 – is located inside the former JC Penney building at 401 Center Ave, and is home to a variety of vendors including the City Grind coffee shop, GCC Organics, Heidi’s Darn Good Cookies and Modern Craft Winery.

1. Midland Mall “Pure Michigan” project
The Midland Mall on Eastman may have lost all but one of its anchor tenants (Target being the remaining anchor), but there are signs of promise. For one thing, the food court currently does not have any vacancies, which is a big advantage over Fashion Square Mall and the Bay City Town Centre, the latter of which outright replaced their food court with a PetSmart. Also, a class at Northwood University has developed a plan to redevelop the Midland Mall into a “Pure Michigan” destination, as reported by Midland Daily News. Three students in Northwood’s Innovation Marketing and Management major undertook a year-long project developing a plan for the mall to make it “more than just a mall.” The plan calls for Michigan-themed attractions and Michigan-based retailers. Kohan Retail Investments, the current owner of the Midland Mall, has expressed interest in adopting this plan and moving forward with the project.

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