New Life for an Old Building

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

"It was the single worst building in the city," said Bruce Johnston, executive director of the Ingham County Housing Commission.

At Williamston's four corners, the building Johnston's talking about sat vacant for a decade. But that's about to change.

Developer Steve Eyke specializes in historic restoration. He's putting a restaurant and bar, 109 Tavern, on the first floor.

"Tavern is going to be bar food, comfort food with a twist, we're going to have 12 microbrews on tap, top shelf liquor," said Eyke.

On the second and third floors are six affordable housing units, two of them condominiums. But those involved say none of it would have been possible without state and local help.

"A good solid city, MSHDA for the rental rehabilitation funds, MEDC with job creation and facade improvement, private ownership and private funding, it takes all those partners to make a building such as this one whole again and real again," said Johnston.

"We're hoping a project like this will be one of those catalyst projects that will encourage other people to take risks and do things with the downtown area," said Eyke.

Christine Benington owns Sequel's Consignment Boutique.

"We struggle sometimes, especially in the winter," said Benington.

But now she has hope.

"Very excited. It's just a few doors down, too. I think it's going to bring a lot more foot traffic to us," she said.

That and new jobs. The tavern will create 20 plus full-time jobs, well above the 9.5 the MEDC grant requires.

Because it's a prominent building, and because of the public-private partnership, the city of Williamston was able to get a "signature building grant" from the MEDC.

There will be an open house January 5 and the tavern will open to the public in late January.


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