Majereks show off new apartments downtown

Published 9:14 pm Friday, November 14, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Paul Crouch of Niles worked for Metropolitan Life Insurance 40 years ago.
On Thursday, Crouch visited the Van Riper building, which is located at 311 and 313 E. Main St. in downtown Niles.
It was the first time he had seen the inside of the building's second floor since he worked there.
But Crouch wasn't the only one who visited the building, which is now called the Majerek Plaza Apartments, on Thursday.
A 5 p.m. ribbon cutting ceremony signalled renovation completion.
And, a subsequent open house put on by Ted and Marie Majerek, who own the building and are behind the apartment project, attracted dozens of people, including city officials, community leaders and local business people.
The project is the first downtown apartment project to be partially funded by a $250,000 Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant.
The grant was awarded to the City of Niles to increase residential density in the downtown area and allowed $25,000 to be spent on each apartment.
Total cost of the project is slightly over $200,000.
Marie Majerek, who at 4 p.m. on Thursday was still mopping floors to get things ready for the open house, said the second floor offices weren't feasible for office suites anymore.
That's why she and her husband, who already own other apartments in the downtown area, decided to transform the second floor space.
Majerek said the aim is to create affordable housing downtown and to activate some of the downtown property currently not being utilized.
Those who end up living in the apartments will have access to a fitness room, a coin-laundry room and individual storage space on the second floor.
The apartments, which are all carpeted, have a light finish, and two of them have a view of Main Street.
Two tenants have so far signed rental contracts, Majerek said
Three of the five apartments, however, are state regulated for five years. That means if the Majerek's sell any of the three regulated apartments before the five years are up, they will have to repay the grant as a loan.
Ted Majerek seemed glad the apartments are finally completed as he walked from apartment to apartment and talked to the many people who dropped by throughout the evening.
Majerek, however said the complex won't be profitable for the first five years.
But the investment will be profitable long term, he said.
Majerek hopes apartments in downtown Niles will attract young people to live there, and bring people back to enjoy the downtown area.
He thinks there is room for 42 to 50 more apartments within three square blocks downtown.
Majerek said he hopes to create a space where the tenants can sit outside and enjoy evenings.
But downtown apartments aren't only for young people.
Majerek thinks downtown apartments are also good for older people who don't want a lot of property.
The Van Riper building was built in 1930.
After going through several owners, Marie Majerek bought the building and other properties nearby in 1979.
In 1990, the Majereks remodelled two second floor offices in the Van Riper building into one furnished apartment.
That apartment has been occupied by a tenant for two years.