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2 months later, $10M Wilson Center renovation project in St. Johns still in developmental stages

The Wilson Center
Posted at 11:12 PM, Aug 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-15 23:12:13-04

ST. JOHNS, Mich. — In June, Dymaxion Development told FOX 47 News that it had purchased the historic Wilson Center in St. Johns and was going to give it a new lease on life.

Now, two months later, a hammer has not yet been swung in the nearly $10 million project, but conversations between Dymaxion Development and the city of St. Johns have continued.

"We are working to find a solution to help preserve both the gym and auditorium as community assets into perpetuity, so we can ensure they always exist for community members and really whoever wants to use them," Project Manager Brendan Fox said. "The city of St. Johns is also looking at some additional space in the building, and we're working with them on that. Whether that's city offices or flexible community space, it's not fully nailed down yet."

The most recent plans given to the city by the developer also contain 47 residential apartment units, another factor delaying a ground-breaking being overnight parking for those tenants.

"Where would parking be? How would that be available not only for the residential units, but also for any other municipal use—which would be the auditorium, the gymnasium and potentially the city offices," St. Johns Mayor Eric Hufnagel said.

"We feel that if we were to build a parking lot on that parcel, it would significantly deter away from the historic nature and beauty of the building," Fox said.

Dymaxion Development proposed overnight street parking.

"But I would not say it's significant overnight parking with respect to street parking," Hufnagel said.

At the July 25 St. Johns City Commissioners meeting, several neighbors of the development expressed concern with the idea of overnight street parking, one resident saying that the developers are putting the burden of parking on them. Each resident was contacted, but none were available for interview.

"I guess theoretically, there would be some more people in that area walking around, but again, if you have a parking lot, you're going to have more people walking in that area anyway," Hufnagel said.

"We've worked to structure the parking where overnight will only be in areas that are between our parcels that we own primarily, as most of overnight will be on McConnell Street, some overnight on Maple Street as well, and potentially a little bit along Clinton," Fox said.

The plan is to add diagonal parking spaces to these areas. Fox said though the exact number of spaces is not finalized, he anticipates 69 overnight spaces for the tenants.

Neither Fox nor Hufnagel could offer a potential date for groundbreaking, as there are still several project approvals needed.

FOX 47 News will continue to follow this story and bring updates as they occur.

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Russell Shellberg

5:49 PM, Jun 03, 2022

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Russell Shellberg

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