$4M investment in historic Muskegon buildings brings brewery, coffee shop, retail to downtown

Gary Post looks back on his 2006 decision to buy and renovate a block of three dilapidated buildings that stood sentry amidst the desolation of a demolished former downtown mall and says, "What was I thinking?"

Today, the former builder has completed renovations of the elegant Century Club and the more stolid brick Russell Block Building next door. Renovation of the third building, the Savings Bank, begins this spring. The buildings span from 350 to 360 W. Western Avenue.

The Century Club building now houses seven retail stores in the Century Club Retail Center -- McDonald's Candies, Lefleur Shoppe, Stormy Kromer, Collage Books, Collage Furnishings, BananaDog teas and chocolates, and Emmaj's Ladybug Shop -- and a restored 1890s ballroom that already has 50 events booked for 2014.  

The Russell Block building features a new craft brewery, Unruly Brewing, Drip Drop Drink, and the West Michigan Symphony ticket office on the main level, with symphony offices and an intimate gymnasium-turned-concert-space on the second level. The third floor still has space for lease.

"When completed the three buildings will represent an investment in downtown Muskegon of over $4.0 million. Small potatoes compared to most developments, I suspect," Post says. "But, I think we’ve been able to leverage the funds raised here to make an impact on our downtown far in excess of the costs it represents."

Post says Unruly Brewing recently optioned the remaining open square footage on the Russell Block's main level to expand its pub. Construction of a 3,000-square-foot outdoor seating area, called The Foundry Garden, will wrap up this spring.

As for the Savings Bank renovation, Post says, "We're working to break ground on that soon for additional retail. There will be five additional retail shops of about 500 square feet each on the main level. The mezzanine will be office and training space. I haven't signed them up yet, but I have four people right now who have expressed strong interest (in being tenants)."

Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor
Images courtesy of Gary Post, Keith Sipe, and Ying Zhang-Woellhaf

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