These available, commercial properties are all within about 1/4 mile from my apartment and former studio. It doesn't include residential properties. Most Michigan towns resemble what's happening in my own. My fear is that may spread across the country. My biggest fear is that the commercial market will meltdown like residential mortgages. It's a disaster waiting to happen . . .
I love twofers. This building in the background was completely redone several years ago at a huge expense when real estate was humming. It's a B & B on the river. The top half rents for 3,000 a week, and the bottom 2,000. Yes, that's dollars. It wasn't rented very much last year and only a few times this winter. The owners also own and operate the largest art gallery in southwest Michigan. It's fate is tenuous.
The property in the foreground is owned by my landlords.
This was my landlord's antique store. It used to do tons of business. I'm using the front windows to display my paintings and to over-winter my plants. Too bad the economy isn't blossoming as well as my red geranium. No one has called to rent it. Or buy it.
This business just went under. It was a micro-winery and I can see it from my apartment window. I knew it was doomed as soon as it opened. Tourist towns by water have an "aura" that can blind people to reality. They should have talked to every business in town before paying the high rent and then having to close. I especially like the locked gate. Landlords want it both ways. Good luck with that paradigm . . .
Another twofer! The vacant lot in the foreground was once a fancy design shop. It burnt to the ground about a year ago (don't ask) and is a prime location smack dab in the middle of town. It's about 20 steps from the previous property and owned by the same landlords.
The property in the background is an older home remodeled into an art gallery on the main floor and living space above. It's been for sale for a couple years now.
Just across the street from the previous property is this, perhaps the choicest in the downtown district. It was once a lovely restaurant decorated in an authentic English style. They had the best pan-fried perch with a tarragon sauce I've never tasted anywhere. It was smoke-free. And if your table talked too loudly, it would kindly be asked to "keep it down."
The manager couldn't keep up with the continually rising rents and finally called it quits. It's been vacant for several years. Greed hurts a lot of innocent people. And towns.
Go one block down and turn right and you'll find this unfinished gem. The green brick on the bottom is what's left of the original little building. This is a perfect example of what real estate agents have suggested: retail with living space. Let your "tenants" pay your mortgage.
This building was quite controversial and involved state funding with all kinds of rules. It houses four large retail spaces. Only one has been rented. Only two of the several condos have been purchased. Two more buildings just like it are sheduled to be built next to it (my town has a population of less than 2,000 people!). I doubt they get built. Ironically, rents aren't falling. In fact, they're getting more expensive! I kid you not.
One block up from the previous property is this one. It's been "available" for several years. Behind it is the bowling alley. My town has been "gentrified" and that includes the lowly bowling alley. It wanted this particular property for parking. Abood paid way too much hoping to cash in. The bowling alley itself now has a grand piano. Oil paintings on the wall. Installed a kitchen and outside seating. It actually did quite well last year. The food was inexpensive but good. A lot of these signs help the potential buyer dream about what they could build. There's another empty lot for sale across the street.
This isn't really in the dowtown district, but about two blocks from it. It's been for sale for several years. Ain't no one buying art in this economy. Again, note the sign and the dream uses for potential buyers. Yea, more "retail," just what the town needs. A "cafe"? And a ton more money to get it started. Across the street are more empty spaces--I kid you not! In January the landords raised rents and the occupants, one of whom was a real estate agent, fled!
Okay, go back to the first picture and this is the marina that's been for sale for ages. It's next to the expensive B and B. This and the next three pictures are all within view of each other and within the same block. Michigan has the highest rate of boat ownership (and now, probably, boat foreclosures). This is the Kalamzoo River before it empties into Lake Michigan.
This "house" was part of a business deal that involved the next picture. It overlooks the river. It's gone through several owners in the past years.
Behind it is the original venture . . .
This was once a classic, white clapboard house that had been converted into affordable apartments for working-class people who live here. It's now been transformed into several condos--small ones--and very expensive. Not one has sold. If you glimpse to the far left--that white building is another condo complex. There's for sale signs there, too. BTW, the house across the street from this place is also for sale.
This house was part of large business venture, too. Another older home stood where it is now. Behind it was another house that was torn down. Two more house like this are supposed to be built. I don't think so. The Christmas wreath at the gable end didn't work. Santa didn't stop.
Actually, I could go on. The lot next to my building has been purchased. It's supposed to be--you guessed it--condos and retail spaces. I can't imagine they'll get financing. To be honest, I'm glad those days are over. Greed ruined my town and my business.
Next time: what a town looks like when it's "gentrified."