ESCANABA - The city of Escanaba received $300,000 in grants from the MIchigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) for facade improvements on main street.
MSHDA Interim Executive Director Keith Molin presented the grants. $200,000 was awarded to the future "Lofts on Ludington" project in the former Delta Building being developed by Matt and Beth Sviland. Another grant for $100,000 was awarded to six businesses on the 1200 and 1300 block of Ludington.
"It's very unique for a grant of that size to be given to one project," said Molin. "The Delta Building is very unique. (It has historical qualities and value and is a big part of Escanaba that has stood for the last 40 years...vacant."
Keith Molin, interim director of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA), left. Matt Sviland, and Keith Cooley, MSHDA board member and director of the department of labor and economic growth for the state of Michigan, right, tour Sviland’s development project, the future “Lofts on Ludington,” in the old Delta Building on Ludington Street. The project received a $200,000 MSHDA grant. (Daily Press photo by Audrey LaFave)
Molin said the Delta Building sits right at the gateway to Escanaba's downtown, and he can say that as a native - he was born and raised in the city, and graduated from Escanaba High School in 1953.
"I've cruised Main Street from 23rd Avenue, which is now Lincoln Road , down to the municipal dock many times," said Molin.
Also on hand as a MSHDA board member was Keith Cooley, director of the department of labor and economic growth for the state of Michigan. Cooley said the grants are awarded to cities that show a commitment to their downtown.
"The city of Escanaba is wonderful - this truly is a bright spot in the making," said Cooley. "We came to see how the money was being spent, and I, as well as Keith Molin, will be preparing reports for the board that the money is being well-spent."
Roger Good, director of the Escanaba Downtown Development Authority, said the city is pleased with the grants.
"Communities struggle with what to do with these large historical buildings (like the Delta Building)," said Good. "We're hoping that this project will be an incentive to developers and will spur more development in that area and other places downtown."
The six businesses who will share the facade grant are Ferdinand's Restaurant, owned by Greg and Pam Mitchell, Becca's Closet, owned by Rachel Scerine and Jim Stone, Beck Plaza, owned by Duane Beauchamp, The Ritz/Pretty Woman, owned by Lynn Fitzpatrick and Fashion Lane, owned by Jacqueline Martenson.
The city will use the funds from the grants for a facade improvement initiative, which is designed to assist a community in making physical improvements to an entire traditional downtown area, block or portion of a block that contains a building and businesses in need of facade improvements.
The funding for the projects is available through the Community Development Block Grant program and will be administered by MSHDA.