August 5, 2016

Morning Sun

Mt. Pleasant’s Reimagine Downtown event on Thursday night gave potential commercial property buyers and lessors a chance to see some of what the area has to offer.

The open house event, held from 5 to 9 p.m., featured several properties of various sizes that are currently available for redevelopment. Also on hand were city staff such as Downtown Development Director Michelle Sponsellar to answer questions about zoning, building codes, and state and local incentives.

“I hope it generates some energy and word of mouth that we have great things downtown,” said Sponsellar. “It’s not just a great location, but it has parking and other amenities.”

Some of the properties that were featured included 118 and 128 East Broadway, 114, 117 and 120 South Main.

Amy Motz owns the building at 120 South Main and said she’s looking for a tenant who wants to rent the downstairs.

“I want to see the downtown grow just as much as others,” said Motz.

Along with that, she added that most of the businesses downtown were working together to promote the area.

Vice Mayor Allison Quast-Lents, who owns Motorless Motion and The New Yorker at 117 South Main, echoed Motz thoughts saying that they are all like a big family.

In fact, when she was renovating The New Yorker, there was an outpouring of support from the hardware store across the street, Char Young at Basketree, Art Reach, Sponsellar and more pitched in to help get the project done.

Quast-Lents was really happy with the steady stream of traffic at the start of Thursday’s event and said people seemed to have a lot of good ideas for the properties.

One of those potential property lessors was Vanessa Spratt of Mt. Pleasant, who owns Soul Sista’s - a soul food and sweet business.

Spratt is currently trying to find a building to run her business out of and said she was overwhelmed to be invited by Quast-Lents.

“This has been a vision of mine since I was 12,” said Spratt.

Unfortunately, without a building and on a fixed-income, it’s hard for her to get her business off to the next level, she said.

In addition to city staff and potential property owners, members of the Small Business Development Center like Amy Fisher were also out and about.

Fisher, who is a SBDC business consultant, said they want to work with these potential businesses to determine expenses and things like that to help them come up with a business plan to take to the bank.

Brad Wahr, a commercial lender with Mercantile Bank, said the commitment from the city, community-minded banks, and organizations like the SBDC and CMURC are all working together to help downtown businesses flourish.

Sponsellar added that the city of Mt. Pleasant was affected by the economic recession as bad as other cities is a testament to the downtown and city commission.

“The fact our city firmly believes in keeping up with routine maintenance and events is almost unheard of,” she said.