The Fenton Downtown Development Authority and the Michigan Brewing Company (MBC) have mutually agreed to terminate the lease of the DDA’s Old Fire Hall to MBC, effective Thursday.
Fenton Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Michael Burns and DDA Chairman, Craig Schmidt, reported that they and city representatives met with MBC officials Thursday and all parties agreed that it was in everyone’s interest that the lease be terminated. The termination came before any MBC or DDA funds were spent on the project.
"We had given them a list of things to meet by dates and they didn't meet any of them," Burns said. "The eviction two nights ago was really the last straw."
Michigan Brewing Company was evicted Tuesday from their headquarters after the Webberville building was foreclosed after failing to make loan payments to Zions First National Bank, reported the Lansing State Journal. The article stated Highview Enterprises bought the property but failed to reach a rental agreement with MBC and its lending company, Highview Holdings.
"We didn't know the eviction was coming," Burns said. "It seems they are in a situation where they need to focus on their core business."
He added that officials signed the lease termination agreement and returned it within an hour of being sent. Michigan Brewing Company President Bobby Mason could not be reached for comment.
"It wasn't anything personal. We had a good relationship with them," Burns said. "I hope in the future they are successful."
The deal approved by the DDA included a timeline that construction was required to be completed by June 30. Michigan Brewing Company officials originally stated they hoped to open doors by April 1, 2012.
The deal was for Michigan Brewing to lease the building for $1 a year for seven years and then buy it for $1. MBC would have received up to $400,000 from the DDA toward the estimated $1.35 million in renovations required to bring the building up to standards. The agreement gave the DDA the right to terminate the lease at any time. In the winter of 2010, the DDA chose Michigan Brewing to move into the location. Burns said no public dollars were spent on the project.
"It hurts, but it could be a blessing in disguise for all we know," Burns said.
Burns said the DDA would have to discuss the next move for finding a business to move into the building. He said he would expect that to happen at the DDA's next meeting on May 15.
"It's depressing, but I'm still confident the project will happen, just with someone else," Burns said.