Live-work trend could drive sale of city-owned historic home downtown



The City of Swartz Creek purchased the historic home in downtown to obtain an easement for the alley that will connect Holland Square with Hayes Street. Photo by Lania Rocha

The City of Swartz Creek purchased the historic home in downtown to obtain an easement for the alley that will connect Holland Square with Hayes Street. Photo by Lania Rocha

SWARTZ CREEK — An emerging trend in home buying could prove beneficial as the City of Swartz Creek seeks to sell a downtown residence it purchased last year.

The city bought the property at the southeast corner of Miller Road and Hayes Street in order to obtain an easement needed to build an alley from Holland Square to Hayes Street.

Consultants with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recommended the easement as part of the marketing plan for the former Assenmacher/ Lovegrove building.

City officials have had some concerns about how the alley would affect the resale value of the property, especially since it would carve a big chunk out of the already-small yard space.

There was some thought about marketing it as a business opportunity, but the lack of parking made that seem difficult.

Now, however, it appears the historic home could be the perfect place for someone shopping for a “live-work” property.

“The opportunities are endless,” said Planning Commission member Juan Zuniga. “And, with COVID, it has put folks in a different frame of mind about working from home. It’s a really nice option.”

Potential buyers could include counselors, attorneys, accountants, barbers, and others who would have one or two clients at a time.

Zuniga said he has “tons of research” on the livework trend, and he will compile a report on what works and what doesn’t across the country, for the Planning Commission to review as they consider the best use for the property.

City Manager Adam Zettel said he will look into what grants are available for people interested in entrepreneurship in a downtown setting.

“I love this idea,” Zettel said. “We’re trying to preserve the best features of an historic home and add to the economy.”

The MEDC also likes those types of unique opportunities, he said.

“They like some of the different stuff, getting away from the cookie cutter things everyone is doing,” he said.

“I would love to see a business in there,” said Commissioner Jentery Farmer. “It would be a wonderful addition to downtown.”

The trend has partially been spurred on by multiple studies showing remote work equates to greater productivity due to fewer workplace distractions, such as meetings, and no commute time.