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