Dowagiac City Council approves purchase of section of Zeke’s Restaurant for $95,000

DOWAGIAC — The site of a former downtown Dowagiac restaurant will soon have new ownership.

The Dowagiac City Council approved a resolution approving the sale of 103 S. Front St. to DTG Properties Monday at City Hall.

The cost of the building is $95,000 and will be purchased using cash, so it is not subject to financing. Closing will take place at the end of April.

“I think this is a good business opportunity for the city and for DTG Properties,” said city manager Kevin Anderson. “We’re looking to close as quickly as we can on the property.”

DTG Properties is a family-owned and operated business owned by Greg and Tia Dady. The company currently has properties in Aurora, Illinois, and is looking to expand operations to southwest Michigan where they have a second home. Anderson said they are planning to make improvements to the building with retail on the first floor and residential on the second floor.

According to Anderson, the city has been working with a number of restaurateurs over the past six months towards the redevelopment of the former Zeke’s Restaurant property, which closed last January after more than 30 years of operation.

Each of the potential restaurateurs has shared that the seating capacity is too large and has explored ways to reduce the restaurant’s footprint.

After having these discussions, the city determined that selling the north building next to Bakeman’s Barbers, 101 S. Front St., which previously housed a salad bar, seating and meeting rooms, would be the logical choice to economically and efficiently reduce the restaurant’s footprint.

The terms of the transaction include applying for façade improvement grants consistent with the city’s current downtown façade incentive program and applying for state funding for second-floor residential improvements. DTG Properties will also be responsible for the cost of separating the buildings, such as placing fire-rated walls in each opening, bringing electric service to the building, bringing natural gas services to the building, removal of HVAC stems to the building, etc.

The company will receive a $5,000 credit at closing for the removal of mechanical systems from the roof and roof repair and the city will bring an adequately sized water lateral to the building. All items currently in the building will remain in the building and the city will provide a survey and title insurance.

Anderson believes the purchase of this section of the property will increase the prospects of finding a buyer for the remaining portion of the former restaurant.

“They’ve got a nice vision for the property,” Anderson said. “They are experienced managers, and I think this could be the first of a couple of steps to take that property and get it fully operational.”

The building at 103 Front St. was not the only property discussed during Monday’s meeting.

The city voted unanimously to approve the sale of 412 Gray St. to nurse practitioner Nadzieja Pocheki.

Anderson said Pocheki plans on developing the building into a federally-qualified healthcare clinic to serve community members who lack adequate insurance coverage. According to Anderson, the land and building at 412 Gray St. were donated to the city several years ago.

A number of redevelopment options have been reviewed by the city since then but nothing came to fruition. As the city had virtually no funds invested in this property, a price of $100 plus all closing costs was recommended.

“She has come in over the last couple of months asking about what kind of properties were available,” Anderson said. The more we talked, the more it sounded like this property could be a potential use. The idea of having a clinic that can serve the needs of the community and help keep the cost down sounded good to us.”

The clinic is still in the planning and federal application stages and as an FQHC, the clinic will be managed through a board of directors and the community’s needs are, and will continue to be, researched carefully when deciding which services to offer.

If the building fails requirements and does not become a clinic, the property would revert back to city control.

Also on Monday:

  • The city passed a resolution authorizing an agreement with Domestic and Sexual Abuse Services for the continuation of DASAS services that support the Department of Public Safety. DASAS provides services including emergency housing, crisis intervention, 24-hour telephone support, support groups in the community, prevention programming in the schools, victim outreach, and legal advocacy.

“Every time our police officers respond to a domestic abuse call, DASAS is notified and they respond immediately to counsel or, if necessary, provide safe shelter,” Anderson said. “Public Safety Director Steve Grinnewald reports that this service provides valuable support for the police department.”

  • The city received audit results from YEO & YEO CPAs & Business Consultants for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2019. The results were presented via video conference by Jamie Rivette, a certified public accountant and a certified government financial manager. The auditor reported the city’s financial statements and procedures comply with good accounting practices and law.
  • Anderson provided the council with an update on Beckwith Park construction. He said that over the course of roughly 45 days, Lounsbury Excavating will begin working on improvements to the park, which include the compaction of soils, adding four parking stalls, returning the memorial bricks to a patio, relocating public art and adding benches and tables while retaining open space for larger gatherings and community events.

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