Salted caramel custard, Faygo Rock ‘N’ Rye ice cream and more — on the banks of the Shiawassee River in Fenton. As the Fenton Fire Hall restaurant makes its way through the site plan review process, Curt Catallo from Union Joints has an additional proposal — restoring the city’s old pump house into a frozen custard building. He presented his ideas for The Pump House at Monday’s city council worksession.
The proposal resembles Union Joints’ restaurant and ice cream store in Clarkston, where there is the Clarkston Union and his wife, Ann Stevenson’s, Union General for ice cream, Catallo said. The Pump House in Fenton would feature handcrafted all natural custards, by the owners of the Fenton Fire Hall.
Fenton’s pump house is a gem by the he said. It’s in great shape, with beautiful brick, a new roof and the construction design of the old fire hall. There’s potential for Union Joints LLC to use the building as a satellite location to the Fenton Fire Hall restaurant, he said.
The pump house belongs to the city, said Assistant City Manager Michael Burns, also Downtown Development Authority (DDA) director.
Union Joints LLC proposed buying the pump house from the city. As a custard location, it would increase foot traffic along the river walk, as the Fenton Fire Hall opens in the spring, Catallo said. People could stop in during events in the park, shopping trips, picnics, fishing, and Fenton Fire Hall overflow.
The roof on the pump house is four years old, said Councilman Les Bland, retired Fenton Department of Public Works director. In addition, the building is the site of a former well that’s been concreted and capped. The capped well stands above the ground. In addition, he doesn’t believe sewer service could be extended to the pump house, Bland said.
For restrooms, The Pump House would have to have a relationship with an adjacent business so its patrons could use the restrooms at the adjacent business, said Zoning Administrator Brad Hissong. Otherwise, the project wouldn’t get approval. And once the use of the building changes, it must be brought into full compliance with the new building code.
He believes Union Joint’s proposal would be a great use of the building, Bland said. It’s been empty for four years. Someone had an idea to open it for concessions, but this fell through.
Councilman Michael Piacentini said there might be a different entity looking to open an ice cream business downtown, but not in the pump house. In addition, Piacentini would be opposed to selling or giving away the pump house to Union Joints, if another business with a concrete plan wants to open an ice cream store.
Catallo said Union Joints is interested in buying the pump house, because of the sizeable investment needed.
Councilwoman Pat Lockwood said she likes the idea for The Pump House, which could be a great enhancement on the river. She favors Fenton considering a five-year lease agreement with Union Joints for the building like the DDA has for the old fire hall, instead of the city selling the pump house outright.
Osborn said Fenton should discuss it with the city attorney. She would support the sale of the pump house.
Bland agreed, saying if someone makes a $200,000 to $250,000 investment into the pump house, for example, they wouldn’t want to lease it.
An option would be selling the pump house to Union Joints, keeping the right of first refusal if Union Joints doesn’t keep the building, City Manager Lynn Markland said.
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