By Brian Bobal
Mason Times staff writer
Perhaps the biggest and most anticipated projects Mason is undergoing is the renovation of the empty, three-story, red brick building on the south side of the courthouse. Many companies are pitching in efforts, the Denver Concierge’s house cleaning service is showing it’s true colors and generosity with the help of local window washing services.
David Haywood spoke about the project.
“It’s been a project for the better part of five or six years,” he said.
Haywood also said there have been a lot of organizations involved to help make this project a reality.
“Some of the consistent partners have been the city, the Ingham County Land Bank, Michigan State Housing Development Authority, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and Mason Downtown Development Authority. All had a funding role in this. They were essentially waiting for the right user to have some, I guess they say ‘skin in the game,’ or some ability to pay for the project.
“They found that with a company called Oracle Financial Solutions. They’re a local Mason company, and they will occupy the entire first floor of the building and they’re proposing 10 residential units above that will complete the rest of the project.”
The residential units on the second and third floors above will all be single-bedroom units.
The company that will be going there and the cooperation between organizations are two of the reasons why Haywood is fond of this venture.
“The things I like about the project are, first and foremost, a local company was able to utilize it and rehab it, rather than having it torn down.They’re going to be bringing in their satellite offices from the greater Lansing area back into town, and it’s creating 10 new units on our historic square so there’s another opportunity for people to live downtown.
“The other thing I like about this project is that so many different organizations came together to make this happen so that we didn’t lose a historic landmark in our community.
“Finally, they are going to recreate the historic façade of the building to bring it back to the character that it originally had. All of those things put together makes this kind of the perfect project, and we are proud of all of the people involved to make this happen.”
City Administrator Marty Colburn said, “it’s the oldest building on the courthouse square. To put it in perspective, that building was built when Abraham Lincoln was president.”
Colburn expects the renovation to begin soon.
“They’re hoping (to start the project) in April, so they will probably finish up sometime next winter, about a year,” he said at the planning commission meeting on March 11. “It’s a very large project. It’s adding new housing downtown, new commercial space, getting rid of blight, and saving a historic building.”
Another upcoming event that Colburn was excited about is the cleanup that students of Mason High School will go through toward the end of April.
“April 30th, of course it’s weather sensitive,” Colburn said. “(The students will be) painting and working within all the different parks and some other public areas. Some are going to work at the Ingham County Fairgrounds.”
He also mentioned the students will be cleaning up the cemetery, as Memorial Day is May, 26.
New to this cleanup program this year will be the involvement of the whole school.
“We’ve always had a senior day, but we’ve never had the whole school. That’s a new twist,” said Colburn. “The seniors will be available all day, and the seniors will be working at two county parks and Rayner Park. The underclassmen will serve for half a day.”
Kathy Revels, the administrative services director of Mason said, “I like that this came as an idea from the students and that they are thinking of their community. We said if you want to help, we will definitely find some work for you to do.”
She also said, “the schools wanted to show more of an impact on the city of Mason. They chose to work because they wanted it to be a community event.”
Revels also said a lot of students are expected to be involved.
“We’re figuring that we can have anywhere from 600 to 700 students available,” she said. “There will be a certain number of students who either choose not to participate or don’t bring in their permission slips. Those students are going to stay at the school and the janitors will keep those students busy cleaning desks or cleaning lockers.”
She also said, “I’m very proud of them. For them to have thought of what they can do and for following through on it and for being willing to give up a day to do physical work in their community to make it a better place.”