In April of this year, Bill and Karen Dobbins (‘74) announced that they would be spearheading a development project that would bring an apartment complex to downtown Albion. On the morning of Friday, October 20, an official groundbreaking ceremony was held in front of the Peabody building at 400 South Superior Street.
Bill, president and CEO of Caster Concepts Inc., said that he and his team would be taking the approach to creating a space that isn’t just good enough for the city but something great for downtown Albion.
“We’ve been stuck over the years saying we’ve been doing things that are good enough for Albion. That time is gone,” said Bill. “It isn’t just going to be good enough for Albion, it’s going to be better than anything else you’ve seen before. We want to have that attitude and we want the Peabody block to be something that’s better than things we’ve ever been exposed to.”
According to Bill, the project will cost about $1.65 million. After renovations are complete, the building will be worth anywhere between $700,00 and $800,000. A $300,000 investment will come from the Dobbins family; $657,000 from Homestead Savings Bank and $800,000 from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC).
Emily Petz, a representative from the MEDC, presented the $800,000 check to the city of Albion at the groundbreaking ceremony.
“This is a beautiful building and a beautiful project, and it’s kind of the perfect project in a sense because we’re preserving the history, we’re adding units downtown, we’re adding commercial, adding vibrancy and we know that this building is going to be a solid part of the community for generations to come,” said Petz.
There will be four apartments on the second and third floors of the building. As loft-style apartments, each unit will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms. All appliances will be included and the building will be equipped with an elevator.
The ground floor will be completely renovated commercial space for businesses. The Dobbins are looking for one or two highly motivated entrepreneurs to open their business in this space.
Along with the MEDC and Homestead Savings Bank, the Dobbins connected with Bruce Johnston and Randy Case. Johnston is the owner of Revitalize, LLC., out of Mason, Michigan, and has assisted in the development of communities like Grand Ledge, Eaton Rapids and Alma.
Case is the president of Architecture + Design, Inc., in Battle Creek. Established in 1981, the company specializes in the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic structures. Focusing on communities that are less than 50,000 in population, Case believes this project is exactly right for Albion.
“What we found was that this project was the perfect catalyst for downtown Albion,” said Case. “It’s a project that has a committed owner that’s put their own money into it, and they’re into it more to give to the community. It’s not like they’re going to make a lot of money on this. They’re going to own property, be a part of the downtown and they’re committed to it. This is an extremely great commitment because most communities don’t have that kind of thing going on.”
Photo by Steve Marowski