After sitting vacant for a few years, a historic Battle Creek home will be getting new life under the direction of a familiar face.

The Calhoun County Land Bank Authority says on Wednesday that they have agreed to the sale of the Shepard House at 373 Riverside Dr. Calhoun County Treasurer Brian Wensauer says that the home is being sold to Executive Growth Properties LLC, which is headed up by local businessman Hans Stark. After the property was listed for sale by the Land Bank in March, Stark was one of two buyers who submitted plans for the rehabilitation of the building.

Hans Stark, who operates Michigan Tile and Carpet in Battle Creek, previously had experience rehabilitating and renovating 651 Capital Ave. NE among other projects. 373 Riverside will be rehabilitated through the Land Bank's Transform This Commercial Property Program, which relies in part on the buyer to demonstrate a plan along with experience.

Stark and Executive Growth Properties plan on spending the next two-and-a-half years transforming the Shepard House into a commercial office space, with seating and a kitchenette on the first floor and a loft office on the second floor. The first phase of the project will include replacing the roof and windows, and removing the chimneys. The second phase, which should begin sometime after November 2019, will " extend into the summer of 2020 and include interior and exterior work such as new electric, plumbing and the addition of front and back porches."

The third and final phase should see the building finished by summer 2021.

Speaking in a press release about the project, Hans Stark said he'd driven by the property numerous times and he wants to "return this property back to its true roots and preserve an important piece of Battle Creek’s history.”

The Shepard House was built in 1852 by Warren B. Shepard, who was Battle Creek's first schoolteacher. The Shepards used it as a family home for over a century, but it eventually fell into disrepair and came into the ownership of the Land Bank around two years ago.

Executive Director of the Land Bank Krista Trout-Edwards says that "we strive to find new and creative ways to salvage historic structures, and this project is a great example of the Land Bank and Treasurer working together to help reclaim this gem for the Battle Creek community."

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