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Fenton DDA Terminates Lease With Michigan Brewing Company

Officials say no funds were spent on the project.

The Fenton Downtown Development Authority and the Michigan Brewing Company (MBC) have mutually agreed to terminate the , 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."
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.

Jason Alexander (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 05:31 PM
What do you think? What should go in the building now?
stephanie pytlowanyj April 26, 2012 at 05:38 PM
When they were evicted from their headquarters, the writing was on the wall that they were NOT going to full fill their commitment here in Fenton. It's really unfortunate, and I'm hoping the city of Fenton gives a local person an opportunity to place a business in the old fire hall; it's a really cool building. Maybe a unique restaurant ('s) (like the BOB in Grand Rapids) or a combination of a restaurant with some unique shops would be fitting to place there. One problem I can foresee is parking.
Robert Marr April 26, 2012 at 07:10 PM
I'd like to see something like Luigi's Fish House. Something dedicated to seafood. Clam bakes to go, Bouillabaisse, steamers and the likes. Oooh! Oooh! Lobsta Stew.
Lenny Haise April 26, 2012 at 07:24 PM
I think the concept was perfect for the building & the area. A well done brewpub would be a centerpiece in the area and draw many new people. A lot of people do plan trips to visit small unique breweries and brewpubs across varies states.
stephanie pytlowanyj April 26, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Sounds yummy. Great idea!
J. Michael Lenninger April 26, 2012 at 08:32 PM
I hear that some people affiliated with The French Laundry originally were looking at this site for a new restaurant. Soon, we'll have a new brewery brew/pub in downtown Brighton. Y'all come!
stephanie pytlowanyj April 26, 2012 at 08:45 PM
J. Michael the french laundry was looking at it to start up a bakery. They have since found another location in Fenton. The name of the business, I believe, is The Crust or maybe it's just Crust.
Sean Rosekrans April 26, 2012 at 10:47 PM
Hate to say I told you so. But looks like another disaster from the DDA.
stephanie pytlowanyj April 26, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Oh common Sean, why are you so negative? Can you try looking at your glass as half full rather than half empty :)
michael henk April 26, 2012 at 11:38 PM
Glad to hear DDA terminated the contract with MBC. There were too many red flags in the relationship that pointed to them not being able to fulfill their end of the deal. "We had a good relationship with them" - usually someone attempting to get something for (next to) nothing will say or do anything to make the other party feel like their relationship is good. I like Robert's idea above for a seafood place, maybe contact the Kruse & Muer people. I know they have expressed an interest in Fenton before and they have the money to back what they propose. They would probably be able to actually buy the building or rent it for real money.
stephanie pytlowanyj April 27, 2012 at 12:25 AM
I don't know why the city of Fenton couldn't be proactive and reach out to Kruse and Muer. Maybe the city manager could give them a call?
John McKay (Editor) April 27, 2012 at 02:21 AM
I don't think that was a DDA failure - the company, quite simply, is going through some tough times and needs to address its main operations before expanding.
Mary Cunningham April 27, 2012 at 12:49 PM
How abut a flea market? or a group of botique shops?
Patricia Eriksson April 27, 2012 at 08:40 PM
How about something that will cater to the "river traffic" as people "portage" around the dam?
Josh Latimer April 30, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Seafood would be a winner. Great idea Robert!
Ginger Kramer April 30, 2012 at 03:17 PM
I loved the idea of a brewery! It's a shame that it didn't work out. One of my favorite places to go is The Clarkston Union. So unique, I was really hoping for something like this in Fenton.
Alexis Bay May 01, 2012 at 01:42 AM
I too am so disappointed the brewery didn't work out. :(
Dr. Ron May 01, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Breweries are a 90's fad. There are not enough kid in town to support a Grand Rapids like B.O.B. night club. I'd say a Kruse & Muer location would be a great addition to Fenton, but the people in Genesee County just don't have the money or the taste buds to support or appreciate good food.

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