The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority has agreed to sell three properties in need of redevelopment in downtown Battle Creek to David Sciacca and Alexa Smolinski of 180Urban.
According to a release by the land bank, work already has begun to clean out the properties and replace the roofs at 15 Carlyle St., and 64 W. Michigan Ave while another property at 119 W. Michigan Ave. in involved in the deal, too. The sale reportedly was a joint effort between the land bank, the City of Battle Creek and John Hart, the city’s downtown development director, as well as Battle Creek Unlimited and 180Urban, a development venture started by Sciacca and Smolinski, who are married. Sciacca has previously called himself David Smolinski.
Terms of the sale were not immediately made available.
“The redevelopment of these buildings in downtown Battle Creek is part of our mission to improve downtowns and promote economic development,” Calhoun County Treasurer and land bank board Chair Christine Schauer said in a press release Thursday. “We’re excited to partner with a local developer who will use local workers to bring these buildings back to life and get them back on the tax rolls.”
Battle Creek Unlimited purchased 119 W. Michigan Ave., the former Anson Hotel, and 15 Carlyle St., known as the Carlyle Building, in 2003 for $195,000 and $350,000, respectively. The organization acquired 64 W. Michigan Ave., in 2010 for $350,000. Through contract, BCU conveyed the parcels to the land bank in 2010 and gave BCU the option to reacquire any of them and first-refusal rights.
Here are a few additional details about the property, provided by BCU:
- 119 W. Michigan Ave.: A three-story brick building, built in 1923, measuring about 13,600 square feet. It has three separate basements under the structure, and the upper part of the building has an atrium.
- 15 Carlyle St.: Built in 1903, the property is a two-story brick building with 6,500 square feet per floor. The last known occupant was a retail furniture business.
- 64 W. Michigan Ave.: Another historic property, the building was built in 1928. It has three stories and approximately 13,500 square feet of space.
Sciacca said plans are in the works for each of the properties. He said 64 W. Michigan Ave. has potential to be a mixed-use property that’s attractive for restaurants and downtown living; of the Carlyle Building, Sciacca said he’s interested in developing residential lofts and doing “some creative things there.” The 119 W. Michigan Ave. property likely will need to be rebuilt, as Sciacca said the “past two winters have not been kind to (it).”
Sciacca heaped praise upon the City of Battle Creek, the land bank and BCU for their hand in the deal. He said he and his wife are hoping to be “pioneers” in the model of working with the public and private sectors to redevelop local properties.
“As you know, they’ve sat for a very long time,” he said. “Things are finally changing here and there’s been a lot of mechanisms in place that have been difficult to navigate to. With city administration and the land bank and BCU, some things are starting to align that make it easier to make things like this happen.”
The City of Battle Creek is managing grants awarded to Battle Creek Unlimited by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to repair the roofs of the buildings. The buildings also have undergone cleaning efforts and weatherproofing as winter draws near, the land bank said.
In a press release, Battle Creek City Manager Rebecca Fleury said the city is “ready to roll up our sleeves and breathe new life into these buildings,” an effort she believes will spark investments and job creation in downtown Battle Creek. Fleury said there’s “enormous potential” for all three buildings, each of which has sat vacant for years.
BCU President Marie Briganti told the Enquirer that roofs should be finished by Nov. 27 and additional clean-up work should be completed “in the next week or so.” Briganti credited the Kellogg Foundation for entrusting BCU with the funding to improve the buildings for future use.
“We are very excited about this development,” Briganti said. “We were happy to be the administrators of the grant by the Kellogg Foundation and make these buildings more marketable.”
Contact Dillon Davis at 269-966-0698 or firstname.lastname@example.org.