Algonac pins its hopes to improved strip mall By ANDREA MASONTimes Herald

ALGONAC- Officials are hopeful improvements to a once decrepit downtown shopping center will be a catalyst for economic advances across the city.
Turnkey Development of Macomb County’s Washington Township bought the Algonac Village Mall last year and has been making improvements since.

“That plaza is the center of economic activity of the city,” City Manager Chris Wilson said. “And we’ve taken it from the worst place to a show place. … We hope we’re really turning some corners with this development.”
CVS Pharmacy moved from its location at the back of the mall lot to a newly built store where the Farmer Jack building once stood. The grocery store was demolished because of disrepair. Powerhouse Gym will open in May where the CVS had been, and Algonac Coney Island will open in about a month in a new building on the site.
“It’s a dream come true for me,” said Scott Swain, who owns the Powerhouse Gym with his wife, Amber.
The gym’s 8,000 square feet will include physical therapy by Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, massage, tanning, child care and a juice bar – in addition to the usual workout equipment.
“We’re going to offer pretty much everything under the sun,” Scott Swain said.
The Swains also want their business involved in the community, sponsoring events such as fund-raisers for the local athletic departments, he said.
Business owners and residents alike seemed impressed with the progress.
“It’s an improvement. It’s all paved, lights,” said Cathy Somerrell, 54, looking around the plaza parking lot. “It’s attractive.”
Pavement and lights may not seem like much of a marvel, but before Turnkey took over, the city had significant problems with former owners maintaining the mall. The parking lot was torn up, trash littered the alley and one room in the mall still
had a dirt floor.
“This whole plaza was in a pretty serious state of disrepair,” Wilson said. “As it stands now this is still a work in progress.”
He said work on the plaza is about half done. Turnkey still has plans to remodel the strip mall’s façade and to entirely revamp one corner.
Turnkey president Mike Mentz said plans to remodel the corner where Dollar General and Jet’s Pizza now stand should be complete by late fall. The section would be made into four suites – one for Dollar General, one for Jet’s Pizza and one for Turnkey Self Storage, leaving one suite available for a prospective renter.
A second story also would be built for the self-storage business.
“I think it will contribute in the right way,” Mentz said. “It was an eyesore when we bought it, that’s for sure.”
To bring Turnkey in, Wilson said the city cut the developer a few deals on thing such as inspection and building-permit fees.
The property’s value was estimated at $1.4 million a year ago. Since development, that number has doubled.
In this first year alone, the property assessment has increased more than $23,000 and now is valued at $80,000, City Assessor Mark Miano said. That number only will keep rising as the rest of the property is developed later this year, he said. All of that property tax is allocated by the Tax Increment Financing Authority for the Downtown Development Authority, he said. The TIFA district assigns property taxes from a geographic area to specific projects, such as the DDA.
Using a TIFA, a district’s property value is assessed, and the taxes generated beyond that baseline are captured for improvement projects. If the property values decrease, however, so does DDA funding.
“Hopefully, it’s going to prove that you can do business and make money in Algonac,” Wilson said.

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114584451279252941 Civil Rights Training

Civil Rights groups will test fair housing practices Agencies to scrutinize offerings to ensure minorities get equal access in county. George Hunter / The Detroit News To get involved Training will begin Saturday. Those who are selected will receive $25 per visit, along with compensation for mileage. For information about the program or to register for training, call (248) 253-1548. Two civil rights agencies say they are joining forces to ensure minorities, senior citizens and other groups are given equal access to housing opportunities in Macomb County. The Macomb Ministerial Alliance and the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center soon will begin training people to pose as potential renters, to see whether landlords are discouraging some groups from renting apartments. The program is funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Legal Services Corp. and the United Way as part of an initiative to end housing discrimination in Metro Detroit. People of all races and ages are being recruited for the program, said Ministerial Alliance spokesman Gregory Murray. "This is a big problem, not only for minorities, but for seniors and people of low income," Murray said. "What we will do is send two people of different ethnicities to inquire about the availability of an apartment, condo or other rental unit. "If a black person, or an elderly person, is turned down, and another person is not, and both people had the same kind of qualifications, then we’ll know there’s likely discrimination going on," Murray said. If a landlord is found to be discriminatory, federal sanctions could be levied by HUD, said Michelle Johnson, director for the Legal Aid and Defender Fair Housing Center, which covers Macomb and Oakland counties. The National Fair Housing Alliance released a report last week that found that in Detroit and 11 other cities nationwide, 87 percent of agents it tested directed African-American customers toward mostly black neighborhoods and white customers toward mostly white areas — an illegal practice known as steering. The group sent people of varying races to real estate offices in Metro Detroit, then measured any differences in the way each group was treated. It found that agents showed white customers homes mainly in the Grosse Pointes, but showed black customers with similar backgrounds homes in Detroit. The Michigan Association of Realtors wants to begin voluntary tests to determine if Realtors are treating customers differently based on their race. The group also is considering asking lawmakers to require Realtors in Michigan to receive regular training on the laws that prohibit housing discrimination. You can reach George Hunter at (586) 468-7396 or ghunter@detnews.com. Visit My Web site, http://www.wynnea.com/, for more information or Call Wynne on cell 586-260-7653

114584249523505328 The Blue Water Area

St. Clair County – The Blue Water Area Experience Marine City The HEART of the Blue Water Area Known for the amazing blue waters of Lake Huron and The St. Clair River, the Blue Water Area boasts all-season recreation, many unique and historical communities and a small-town family lifestyle with close proximity to big city amenities. Located in southeastern Michigan 60 miles northeast of Detroit via Interstate Highway I-94 and 60 miles east of Flint via Interstate Highway I-69, St. Clair County is home to one of Michigan’s oldest settlements, Michigan’s oldest lighthouse and Michigan’s last operational lightship. The Blue Water Area’s love of the water is apparent along the 33 miles of the St. Clair River scenic shoreline. Riverfront communities of Port Huron, St. Clair, Marysville, Marine

City and Algonac offer a recreational water wonderland and are virtually a boating and fishing paradise. Ship watching is the Blue Water Area’s top, unique attraction for visitors and residents alike. Large ocean-going freighters pass through the narrow channel where Lake Huron flows into the St. Clair River more than 29,000 times each year, carrying more tonnage than what passes through the Suez and Panama Canals combined. These majestic giants, measuring up to 1,003 feet in length, pass so close; you can almost reach out and touch them. In addition, hundreds of brightly colored sailboats and sporty powerboats dot the waterways and horizon from May through October, adding to the picturesque beauty of the Blue Water Area. Visit My Web site, http://www.wynnea.com, for more information or Call Wynne on cell 586-260-7653