There are plenty of Battle Creek naysayers, but when you hear them start with their Eeyore act, just tell them about some of the things John Hart talks about.   John is the City of Battle Creek’s Business Development Manager.  He visited the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins this week for an update.   He said it’s definitely been very strange in the “new normal”, but they’re still working hard to bring new things to Battle Creek, all over the city’s 20+ business districts, from the four corners to Beckley Road and more.   He said all across the city, people are coming up with new and interesting ways to open businesses.

The Milton, 25 W. Michigan, is now 90% occupied.  Hart says the project has exceeded everybody’s expectations from the developers on down. Hart says a couple of the larger living units are still available.   We’re seeing a lot of new faces walking around town.  The Milton has also secured a new tenant in the downstairs area. Raymond James will bring 8 new jobs to the downtown area and a $650,000 investment in the 3000 square foot space.   Developers are working to get a restaurant and small grocer in the building, which would be one of two planned small grocers in the downtown area.  Hart says the ceiling has been repaired in the large 2nd floor cathedral-like space and it’s beautiful.

The former Arcadia Brewery Building, Hart says the building, originally built to showcase Chevrolets, is structurally sound and is due to be getting a roof.  The building is owned by the same owner as the Lucky Rooster and One Nation Tap and Table.  The building could be converted to apartments, and have 3 to 4 business tenants on the ground floor.

Apartments at 70 East Michigan, the former Hair Shed Barber Shop.  The new owners have built 3 apartments in the building.  Two, affordable, one-bedroom apartments are partially funded through the city’s affordable housing grants. They rent for $540 per month and are rented.  The third-floor apartment is 1400 square feet and will rent for about $2,000 per month. And the owners are looking for a tenant for 1600 feet in commercial space on the ground floor.

The Binder Building met its demise just before Christmas.  It was demolished by court order after a structural failure that was deemed dangerous.  “We remained hopeful right up until the end that we had found a developer that could make something happen,” said Hart.  He says they were able to get help from the city to rescue an old Michigan Avenue bank clock, embedded in a large boulder, which was donated to the Battle Creek Regional History Museum. They reached out to the original clockmaker to try and restore it.

Here’s news on 14 different Battle Creek eating options:

WACO Kitchen, 15955 South Airport Road, by Duncan Aviation, is Battle Creek’s newest restaurant opened Monday, January 4th.   It will have a great view of airplanes once indoor dining returns. Until then, you can pick up some intriguing entrees, such as a steak bowl, goat cheese flatbread, lentil stew, Bavarian pretzels, and the signature WACO taco: chicken tacos topped with marinated cabbage, mango jalapeno salsa, and a drizzle of chili and lime zest crema. Keep in mind, takeout right now is available from 11 am to 4 pm Mondays through Fridays.

BC Cargo, corner of McCamly and Hamlin.   The last year was slow, for obvious reasons, but they did have three leases at BC Cargo, and all were retailers.  This year, Hart says they have a lot of candidates and expect to be pretty well full by summer.  He says BC Cargo is typically 50/50 between retail and food.

Torti Taco.   The restaurant on Beckley Road had planned to expand to a downtown location at 56 East Michigan, but those plans have fallen through.  The owner of the building moved out of state and that deal is dead, but Hart says they have more options and we should stay tuned!

JJ’s Sweet Treats, a former BC Cargo business, is looking for a brick and mortar location, and Hart says they’re working to make that happen, and perhaps co-locate with another business.

Simply Sensational Berries, a business that started at BC Cargo, continues to operate at 80 West Michigan in the city’s retail kitchen.   Hart says they’ll be meeting with the owner to start looking for a “forever home” to move to, and then the retail kitchen will become available for one of 12 other businesses they are working to help develop.

Café Rica, which went from BC Cargo to the retail kitchen, is now located at 62 East Michigan.  Café Rica got an indoor liquor license, but now have added an outdoor license and will be ready to serve customers outside this spring.

VeggZ Café, at 32 W. Michigan, is another BC Cargo graduate.   They’re in the same building as Battle Creek Community Foundation and Lincoln Room.  They feature wraps, Paninis, macaroni and “cheese” and non-meat burgers.  They use the Kellogg Arena kitchen, where they produce the food, and then move to 32 W.Michigan.

32 Social Café, is also located at 32 W. Michigan and has new owners.  Two young Battle Creek natives, Enrico Rodriguez and Alicia Taylor are now operating it.

One Nation Tap & Table, in the former Hunt Club on West Columbia Ave. They plan to open sometime this month, with a menu featuring barbecue and other comfort food that goes well with a beer.   It’s the same owners at the Lucky Rooster on East Columbia.

Umami Ramen.  Construction is still going on at the new location on Michigan Avenue across from the Kool Family Center.  They’ve started to move items from Calhoun Street to the new place.

Island Style BBQ should open in the spring at 2245 W. Columbia Ave. Ste. 121.  The holiday pop-up event is over but keep an eye out for a grand opening and for more pop-up events.

New Asian Taste, at 1950 W. Columbia Ave.  Chinese, Malaysian, and Japanese food.

Serious Dogs 55 S. 20th St.  16 varieties of hot dogs, smash-style burgers, tater tot poutine, sandwiches, and deep-fried Oreos.

Thunderbolt Chicken at 3905 W. Dickman Road.  This is an extension of JB’s Whiskey Old Style Grill.

There are even more projects in the works, through the efforts of Battle Creek Unlimited. We’ll tell you about those next week.

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