BCU  President and CEO Joe Sobieralski stopped in on the 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins with an update on the community's economic progress and a couple of ideas that are being developed.

Sobieralski recently gave the 2019 Economic Outlook for Calhoun County at Kellogg Arena.

BCU's main focus has been the Fort Custer Industrial Park, but they've also been active in helping to jump start economic growth in downtown Battle Creek. Sobieralski notes that there is currently 330,000 square feet of construction going on or soon to be going on in downtown Battle Creek.

RFP for a Downtown Restaurant 

Sobieralski says they're still accepting applications through March 22nd from experienced restaurateurs who would like move or expand into downtown Battle Creek.  BCU is putting up $200,000 in startup funds to the right applicant.   BCU put the offer out there in December.

Shrank's Building

The former Shrank's Cafeteria building at 85 West Michigan Avenue is in sad shape and won't be saved.  Sobieralski says they're talking with engineering firms to remove the building and making sure the demolition doesn't compromise the building next to it.  He says that's what happened before, and that's why the east wall of Shrank's is falling away from the old structure. Once the lot is cleared, the idea is to construct a new building, for mixed use, with housing.

New Holland Brewery

New Holland Brewery is moving into 64 West Michigan, and hope to be up and running this summer.   Sobieralski says they had some bid work come in, they're finalizing the capital stack.   He says a lot has been going on behind the scenes to lead up to a launch.

The Record Box

The Record Box is moving along at 15 Carlyle Street.  Sobieralski says they recently announced that the federal government approved the federal historic tax credits that was the final piece of their capital stack. That means construction could start soon, and once that happens, we might have an announcement from the "mystery brewery" that will be moving into part of the space.

The Heritage Tower

The Heritage Tower opened this week, in 1931.  The "Old Merchants National Bank"  cost 1.7 million dollars to build and was said to be first bank building in U S to have escalators.   Sobieralski notes that it'll take 30-some million to renovate.  

Fort Custer Industrial Park

Currently, just about every scrap of property in the Fort Custer Industrial Park is being used.  Sobieralski says medical marijuana has created economic momentum.  He says one building was absorbed by someone they believe may use it for a medical marijuana business, but he says "that started a domino effect where some of the other buildings were absorbed for traditional uses."   He says they're down to needing new construction to get more additional space out in the Fort.     He says they're currently exploring some speculative building.   He says it's possible that BCU could spearhead a spec building. He says there are several sites that could be considered for that.


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