SWARTZ CREEK — There’s a twist in the plan to improve the city-owned property at Miller Road and Holland Drive: the adjacent Lovegrove building is now for sale.
“This changes things,” City Manager Adam Zettel told members of the Downtown Development Authority last week. “This is a rare opportunity.”
Roy Hodge manages the building on behalf of the estate of Marie Lovegrove. Lovegrove was Hodge’s aunt.
Hodge also owns the H&R Block office in the Lovegrove building. His wife, Suzette, owns Goin’ Postal.
“Assenmacher (Cycling Center) is no longer retailing there and (Matt Assenmacher) plans to vacate by the end of the month, or July at the latest,” said Hodge. “I’m in the process of shifting H&R Block clients to the corporate store at the Kroger plaza. Goin’ Postal is closed and Teresa’s lease expires in December.”
(Teresa Bryan owns Lovegrove’s Cake & Candy Center, situated in the middle of the Lovegrove building.)
“I’m a tired, old man,” said Hodge. “I’m ready to get out.”
Hodge’s announcement came two days after a steering committee, made up of downtown property owners, unveiled preliminary plans for developing the property unofficially called “Holland Square.”
The city purchased the former gas station site in 2015 for back taxes. Since that time, the DDA has been mulling options for developing a public commons, with an eye toward advancing the city’s nascent brand image.
The plan includes parking, event space, a pavilion with room for storage and restrooms, and possibly some café seating, a fire pit or fountain, a small gazebo and room for the Christmas tree.
Design details, which could extent through the alley south of the pharmacy, could include string lighting, decorative pavers, planters, brick and wrought iron, and additional landscaping.
With the Lovegrove building on the market, however, development of Holland Square is on hold.
“Prudence might dictate a different approach,” said Zettel.
There may be an opportunity to market nearly an entire city block to potential investors, he said.
“It’s a big block, and it’s an important one in downtown,” Zettel said. “Look at it from a business perspective. An investment of this magnitude is so rare, it’s worth second-guessing ourselves.”
The block also contains one house with Miller Road frontage and residential property to the south along Hayes, Ingalls and Holland.
“We’re going to wait and see what happens,” said Mayor David Krueger.
Hodge said the asking price on the Lovegrove building is about $600,000. The building measures about 8,800 square feet, with a basement under half of the Assenmacher section. The parking lot has room for about 25 vehicles.
Genesee County property tax records indicate the building and grounds are worth about $424,600.
The Hodges had previously opposed the DDA’s plan to develop a community plaza at Miller Road and Holland Drive. They expressed concern that visitors to special events, such as farmers’ markets, would park in their lot, which could negatively impact business for themselves and the tenants.