There is a new kid on the block in Downtown Albion. In addition to the Marriott Courtyard hotel, the Albion Malleable Brewing Company, the Ludington Center, Gina’s and Sterling Books and Brew, there will soon be the Peabody apartment complex on the corner of Superior and Erie Streets.
Husband and wife duo Bill and Karen Dobbins are spearheading this new development. The couple graduated from Albion in ‘74 and have been involved in the Albion community ever since. They have invested in other projects on Superior street and jumped on the chance to continue the momentum in their own way.
According to Karen, the Peabody will include two commercial spaces and four apartments. Each apartment will be approximately 1200 sq. ft. with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen. Each complex will be upscale and include hardwood floors, solid surface counters and a washer and dryer. The commercial spaces will be built to suit.
The renovation will begin as soon as possible. A grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation was accepted in August of 2016. The next steps are the approval of the Letter of Intent and the environmental assessment. Work will begin as soon as these requirements are met.
“We didn’t realize at the time we bought the building the historic value of it,” said Karen. “It wasn’t until after we bought it, and we were looking and did some research on it that we [realized we] have something really special here.”
Because of the age of the Peabody building, the Dobbins have chosen to go through a complete historical renovation process, meaning the building’s character will be kept as accurate to its past as possible. According to Karen, the Peabody building was built in 1852 by the sons of the first settlers of Albion; it is also possibly the oldest brick building in Albion.
“We really do want to make sure it’s preserved,” said Karen. “It’s been here for over 100 years, so we want to make sure that it’s here for another 100.”
The updates will take a lot of time, effort and funds. The building is blighted, and the structure, heating, plumbing, electrical and appliances all need to be completely redone. The Dobbins estimate the construction will cost about $1.2 million, which is handled partially by the MEDC grant and partially through the Dobbins. They hope the construction will start this upcoming August and the building will be completed in 2018.
“You have to be really patient,” said Karen. “These things take time.”
Dobbins hopes that Peabody will attract young professionals and faculty and that the shops on the main floor will bring the college students to the downtown area. In the past, the building has housed a hotel, a bakery, a business school, and doctor’s offices. Now, Dobbins is the process of finding a new business to fill the commercial space.
“I hope it brings in four nice tenants who will be walking and eating and enjoying and adding to the vitality of the city,” she said.
Photo by Sarah Finn