FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Aug. 18, 2016
Contact: Erica Shekell, Byrum & Fisk Communications, (517) 333-1606
Calhoun County Land Bank sells downtown Battle Creek building to Cereal City Athletics
Redevelopment of 50 W. Michigan Ave. will turn building into family recreation facility
BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority today announced the sale of the building at 50 W. Michigan Ave. in downtown Battle Creek to Cereal City Athletics, an organization that encourages healthy living and active lifestyles among families.
“The Calhoun County Land Bank is proud of our innovative approach to turning around vacant commercial properties like 50 W. Michigan Ave.,” said Christine Schauer, Calhoun County Treasurer and Land Bank Board Chair. “This unique situation required creative tools and incentives to get this building back into productive use, and the planned project by Cereal City Athletics will spur investment in our downtown and greatly benefit Battle Creek families.”
The property has been vacant for at least eight years. J.C. Penney operated a retail establishment in the building in the 1970s and early 1980s. The building was most recently occupied by Cereal City Office Supply before it became vacant. Battle Creek Unlimited acquired it in 2008 and transferred ownership to the Land Bank in 2010. Under an agreement with the Land Bank, BCU was responsible for marketing it until the City assumed oversight for downtown development last year. The City and the Land Bank worked together to finalize an agreement with the developer. The agreement includes a number of accountability measures, benchmarks, and timetables to ensure that the project stays on track.
“We started Cereal City Athletics to bring more fun activities to our town. We loved the idea of building a climbing gym, but thought it’d be a few years before we could make that happen. Our agreement with the Land Bank and the City of Battle Creek will allow us to get a jump start on that project, and we’re excited to be a part of Battle Creek’s downtown revitalization,” said Emily Bandeen, who is a co-founder of Cereal City Athletics. “Battle Rock is going to be a fun, exciting gym for local families to engage the youth of our city. We also hope to be a destination for avid climbers and even host climbing competitions that will bring tourists to our town.”
The Cereal City Athletics team plans to renovate the building into a world-class climbing gym that features with 40-foot tall ceilings. Battle Rock will feature high climbing walls, bouldering, unique kids’ climbing walls and wide open spaces for spectators. The climbing walls will include sections with varying degrees of difficulty for climbers of different skill levels, ranging from very young children to advanced adult climbers. In fact, half of the large facility will be focused on younger climbers. The team hopes that the facility will help provide a springboard for outdoor climbing trips, team-building experiences and competitions for youth.
Bandeen, along with her husband Tim and friends Charles and Nikki Elder, founded Cereal City Athletics more than a year ago to encourage their children to learn the benefits of an active lifestyle. The organization hosts triathlons and running, kayaking and cycling events for adults and children. The Battle Rock building will provide the organization with its first physical space.
“This facility will be a huge attraction for families with children who are looking for opportunities to be active year-round, and it will draw in people from all over Southwest Michigan,” said John Hart, Director of Downtown Development with the City of Battle Creek. “The facility’s fun, energetic atmosphere will bring more people into downtown Battle Creek businesses and restaurants, and the City of Battle Creek is eager to see this project take off. Battle Rock fits perfectly with the City’s vision to develop more housing units downtown and our efforts to make Battle Creek a regional attraction and a great place to live, work, and play.”
The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority is a separate legal authority that collaborates closely with the Calhoun County Treasurer and local municipalities to eliminate blight, improve downtowns and promote local economic development.