$2M downtown Muskegon retail incubator in Russell Block Building moves toward fall completion

It's been four years now, and Gary Post's vision for creating a retail marketplace in downtown Muskegon is drawing steadily toward the end of its construction phase.

Post envisions a retail incubator of over 20 100-square-foot bakery, deli, artist and retail outlets that would create a "synergistic collection of retailers and businesses as a destination for people coming into town and as a catalyst for people to develop the downtown."

The location is the Russell Block Building (360 W. Western Ave.), and the Russell Block Market, Inc., operating as an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit.

The building, built in 1890, shares a wall with The Century Club, where Hegg's Gallery of Fine Furniture has downsized to just the main level, 11 commercial suites ranging from 200 to 2,000 square feet for retail and offices.

Post developed both buildings and holds out hope for completing the $2M Russell Block Building restoration by late fall. To-date, the nonprofit Russell Block Market, Inc., is still hammering out details on contracts, procedures and funding, says Post. When that's completed, they'll be able to bring incubator tenants on board.

"We still have work to do on the building," Post says. "We will be putting in an elevator, and we're still looking for tenants for floors two and three."

Thus far, the restoration of the building's original façade is in process. Post's Port City Construction company has matched the old brick, rebuilt the entire cornice and replaced 22 windows on the upper floors. The storefront, which originally had five bays, will soon have five bays again, Post says, plus two bay windows that were removed when the building was skinned with metal in the 1940s.

"Somewhat tongue in cheek, I said after I took the metal skin off, the first thing I wanted to do was put it back on," Post says with a laugh.

"We see this project as the beginning of the retail core that Muskegon needs and a way to help retailers develop a customer base and develop their product so they can move to a permanent downtown location. The Century Club could be a next step for some of them."

Source: Gary Post, Port City Construction, Russell Block Market
Writer: Deborah Johnson Wood, Development News Editor

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