Albion’s Big Plan under construction

State awards Albion grant worth close to $1 million to help renovate blighted buildings in downtown area
Posted at 6:31 AM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 06:31:36-05

In May 2018, the 75-room Courtyard by Marriott opened in downtown Albion on Superior Street. A few weeks later, the Albion Malleable Brewing Company opened just a few blocks away. Then, the following year, the area’s first bakery — Foundry Bakehouse and Deli — opened on the same street in the historic Peabody building, which was first erected in 1852.

Now the blighted buildings between the brewery and the bakery are undergoing renovations to one day become lofts and commercial space, said Amy Deprez, president and CEO of the Economic and Development Corporation.

It’s called the Brick Street Lofts Project.

“We’re lucky in that we haven’t demolished our downtown, however the buildings are probably five to seven years from the need to be demolished,” Deprez said during an interview with FOX 17 on Wednesday. “You can’t just go in and slap some paint on it and call it good. So you’re looking at a complete rehabilitation of the building from the ground up.”

Construction crews were working on the buildings on Wednesday, going up and down on the scaffold.

Deprez said in February the Michigan Strategic Fund awarded the corporation a grant worth close to $1 million to help fund the project.

“Bricks Street Lofts will be done by next summer,” she added. “It’ll be a complete, beautiful block of buildings that will be contributing to the local community and drawing in people.”

The project is a part of a larger initiative called Albion’s Big Plan, she said. The goal is to revamp downtown, renovating one blighted building at a time to ultimately increase foot traffic and bring money into the area.

“If we fast forward three years, I want to see that Brick Street down there being full of people, whether they live down there, they’re visiting, whether they’re shopping [or] seeking entertainment,” Deprez said. “I want to see life down there all the time.”

Deprez said funding has been a hurdle. However, Albion College’s financial assistance has helped to get the initiative going.

“Albion’s got committed partners,” she said. “And the one thing I would say is Albion College and the Albion College alum are committed to seeing Albion thrive again. And they are putting their money and their resources to make that happen.”

Deprez said downtown Albion will be under construction for a while. In conjunction with the Brick Street Lofts project, there are eight other projects they’d like to complete in the next three to four years. And, she hopes people will check them out along the way.

“We can’t be what Albion was twenty to thirty years ago. The world has changed,” Deprez said. “So it’s deciding what Albion’s going to be and be successful going forward. And the people are committed to that.”