At a key juncture in town stands a one-story building that has sat vacant for well over a decade.
It once was home to Little Red Shoe House and later a string of clothing stores. Max 10 was the last commercial business to occupy the grey-colored building located at a key intersection that leads to M-43 Highway and M-140 Highway.
“For years it’s always looked bad,” South Haven Mayor Scott Smith said earlier this month in reference to the building that can be easily seen by motorists traveling to and from South Haven along the busy Interstate-196 Business Loop.
Soon, however, new life will be breathed into the concrete block building.
South Haven-based Beacon Venture Group LLC has purchased the building at 708 LaGrange St., and proposes to rehabilitate it for use as a two-unit office building.
“I had my eye on this building for quite some time,” said Robert Mazigian of Beacon Venture Group LLC and owner of Harbor Shores Insurance and Financial Agency in South Haven. “I moved to South Haven and opened a business in January of 2009. For over a decade I don’t remember seeing one established business in this building. The location offers an abundance of traffic impressions on a daily basis from not only locals, but travelers from Kalamazoo and from St Joseph, Benton Harbor, Watervliet and Coloma area. I wanted to redevelop this building to make it a welcoming site for people entering and enjoying South Haven.”
Beacon Venture Group plans to invest $300,000 to renovate the building. Work began earlier this fall with the removal of the facade that wrapped around the building. Beacon plans to complete the renovations by December of 2022.
“The current plan is to turn the building into two 1,700-square-foot professional suites with my current business, Harbor Shores Insurance and Financial – Allstate Insurance Agency, occupying 1 of the 2 suites while renting out the other,” Mazigian said.
“It already looks better,” Mayor Smith remarked at Monday’s city council meeting, where council members held a public hearing to consider whether to provide economic help for the project.
To facilitate the rehabilitation plans, Beacon Venture Group has sought a commercial tax abatement from the city, which council members approved Monday, Nov. 15 after conducting the hearing.
The approval of the abatement will waive property taxes on new development made at 708 LaGrange St. site for the next 10 years due to the site’s location within the city’s Commercial Rehabilitation District.
The district, which encompasses the city’s downtown and the Broadway Street Corridor, was created in 2018 in an effort to encourage the rehabilitation of existing buildings and construction of new ones in the vicinity of the city’s downtown and the Broadway Street corridor, which ends at Elm Place, next to the Burger King restaurant.
Since its creation three years ago, several business owners and developers have taken advantage of the tax abatement incentive, including developer Randy Locker, who is in the process of redeveloping the Hale block on Center Street; Tom Rummel, owner of Hardt Insurance on Huron Street, who is updating his building; Scott and Erin Zoet, who have renovated older buildings on Broadway Street for their two businesses – Rock ‘N Road Cycle and Crescent Moon apparel shop; Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, which plans to renovate the former Michigan State Police building on Broadway Street; and the developers of South Haven Center, the new three-story structure at the corner of Center and Huron streets, which houses retail space on the first floor and apartments on the second and third stories.
“You talk about economic development,” Assistant City Manager Griffin Graham said at Monday’s council meeting, regarding the renovations that have occurred in the commercial rehabilitation district. “We have a way to encourage people to fix up buildings. We’re glad to see that happening.”