Community stakeholders say that downtown Hesperia hasn’t seen a development this big in 40+ years

What’s happening: A historic building in downtown Hesperia is slated to receive significant upgrades — upgrades significant enough that a group of state and local agencies, foundations, and organizations have pledged financial support to the project. It’s a project that will add three new housing units in a community that, per local officials, hasn’t seen this level of development in more than 40 years.

What it is: The historic Slate Building in the village of Hesperia was built somewhere in the mid- to late-1800s but, interestingly enough, not in Hesperia. The building was first constructed in Aetna Corners before being moved by a team of horses to its current site, nearly 10 miles away and somewhere in the late 19th or early 20th centuries. The building has hosted businesses that include a village mercantile, pool hall, and mortuary, before becoming home to Bob’s Drugs Pharmacy in 1956, which still occupies the building to this day.

What’s slated: The Slate Property Co. has announced plans to renovate the building, including transforming an underutilized second story into three residential housing units. Bob’s Drugs Pharmacy will remain open and continue operating the family-owned business from the building’s ground floor.

“This project will truly change the look and feel of our small downtown,” says Mike Farber, Hesperia Village President.

How they’re doing it: The Slate Building redevelopment represents a nearly $700,000 capital investment in downtown Hesperia, with the Slate Property Co. earning financial support from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation with a $227,705 Build MI Community Grant Initiative award; $90,000 from the Newaygo County Housing Partnership Fund; and a $125,000 Program Related Investment loan from the Fremont Area Community Foundation. The Newaygo County Economic Development Partnership (NCEDP), powered by The Right Place, Inc., helped the developers secure the MEDC grant.

Why it’s important: “This project will energize a tired building to a renewed use, add desperately needed housing to Hesperia’s downtown and is providing an opportunity for the Slate family to invest in the place they’ve done business for generations,” says Julie Burrell, Senior Economic Development Director of NCEDP and project lead. “This project is creating something for the entire community to get excited about for the first time in a long time.”

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