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Dowagiac selects Lyons McBride, LLC’s development proposal for 143 S. Front St.

DOWAGIAC — Sitting front row before the city council were Shannon Lyons and Cathy McBride as they patiently waited for the reading of a particular agenda item.

A resolution at Monday’s city council meeting announced Lyons McBride LLC’s development proposal was selected for the property at 143 S. Front St. City Manager Kevin Anderson said the city had eight people interested. Several took contractors through the space and submitted proposals.

On Monday, council selected Lyons McBride, LLC’s proposal as it met the standards outlined in the request for proposal document. Standards included having experience with downtown buildings, honoring the historic downtown, having the financing ability to make the project work and a timeline similar to the city’s wishes. The proposed purchase price is $25,000 cash with a guarantee of at least $350,000 spent in renovations. If Lyons McBride, LLC does not spend the full amount, its owners would write a check to the city for the difference.

The resolution, which passed unanimously, authorizes Anderson to work with the city’s attorney to produce a purchase agreement and developer’s agreement. Both documents are necessary for the building’s rejuvenation to begin.

Lyons McBride, LLC, owned by Lyons and McBride, was formed to renovate high quality, mixed-use buildings in downtown Dowagiac. So far, Lyons McBride, LLC has renovated two buildings that share the same address at 115 S. Front St.

What attracted Lyons and McBride to the historic building was its need for a makeover.

“It needs the most help,” McBride said. “When we bought our first building, [115 S. Front St.], it was in very sad shape as well. We got a lot of satisfaction out of really renovating and not renovating something that was already kind of fine, but renovating something that needed it.”

The former Harvey’s Shop, at 143 S. Front St., nestled  in-between Bow Wow Bakery & Bath and Green Dance Academy was bought by the city in February 2019, along with four other downtown properties from the Douglas E. McKay Trust.

One important aspect to Lyons McBride, LLC’s last project at 115 S. Front St., was hiring a team of local and licensed contractors in the area. They have already spoken with the contractors who worked on their past project and all are on board to work on the 143 S. Front St. property, the couple said.

Both Lyons and McBride said although their previous work background is not in development, they have experience in project management.

“Now, we know how to do it, so is not as scary to us as it might be to someone who walks in and sees an entire floor of kiddie pools filled with water,” Lyons said, referencing the leaking roof at 143 S. Front St.

“It’s really bad,” McBride added. “That’s how [previous owners] solved a leaking roof. They put a kiddie pool underneath it.”

Overall, the pair said there are probably more than eight kiddie pools situated in what they hope will become a residential space on the second floor.

“Right now, we are tossing around the idea of it can be either a rented-out apartment or it can be an Airbnb and give the city someplace for people to stay because we don’t have a lot of that, and particularly, there’s none downtown,” Lyons said. “With it being right next to the train station, right across from Baker’s Rhapsody and Wood Fire Trattoria, we feel the location might be brilliant for that.”

In their proposed redevelopment business plan, Lyons and McBride said they would like the commercial space on the bottom floor to be white boxed with walls that are properly dry walled and painted a neutral color with carpet tiles on the floor. For its first commercial tenant, they said O’Larry Collins, the owner of Art Enah Suit, would have the first right of refusal for the space. Collins’ business is currently held in the commercial space of Lyons McBride, LLC’s 115 S. Front St. property. Eventually, Lyons and McBride plan for the Heddon Museum to move into that space in a couple of years. Having 143 S. Front St., allows Collins to have a commercial space waiting for him when that change happens.

The business plan also outlined Lyons McBride, LLC will use the most up-to-date technology to create an energy efficient place to live. On the residential level, they are still talking over floor plans.

“There’s a bunch of stuff in [143 S. Front St.] actually,” McBride said. “We have to get that stuff out so we can really actually see the space to make the floor plan and really take advantage of what it actually is.”

Lyons McBride, LLC is anticipating the project to be finished within a two-year timeline and plans to start with replacing the roof when weather permits.

“We are just really excited for the opportunity,” Lyons said. “We are excited to work with the city, to work with the state and to turn that building into something really special.”

Correction: 12:26 p.m., 2/27/20: The photo previously included with this article incorrectly labeled the building at 143 S. Front Street. We regret the error and are happy to correct it.

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