Renovations, new businesses start downtown transformation
North Jefferson Street is blocked off as workers repair cornice atop the Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro.
Some buildings in downtown Hastings are getting new owners and occupants. Several structures are being renovated, preparing to open in the coming weeks or months with new apartments and retail shops.
“Extremely exciting” is how Hastings Community Development Director Dan King summed up his response.
From his city hall office, King can see some of the projects taking shape on East State Street. Other properties are being transformed farther west or around the corner on Jefferson Street.
The nearest one also may be the first to open: Alysia Fedewa is hoping to open the doors on her life’s dream next week at The Sugar Shop, 144 E. State St. The bakery, with a 1950s-style décor, also will offer coffee and candy.
Fedewa, a Saint Johns native, said she’s been a pastry chef her entire life. After working as a baker at a golf course, however, she took a job at a factory to provide year-round income and enable her to buy a house. She did purchase a home in Middleville, but her love for baking never waned.
“I’m from a small town and didn’t want to be in a big city,” Fedewa said of her decision to open a bakery in Hastings.
Her store hours will accommodate first-shift workers, opening at 4 a.m. Tuesday through Friday.
Around the corner, the former County Seat Restaurant has been purchased by Jefferson Street Investors of Lowell. The third Main Street BBQ Restaurant is expected to open in the coming weeks. Other restaurants are in Lowell and the Creston neighborhood of Grand Rapids.
The former Second Hand Corners shop at the corner of State and Jefferson streets is currently being gutted. Tom Kramer, a Grand Rapids-area business owner who now lives in Hastings, recently purchased that historic building. His plans include apartments in the second and third stories, King said, and a mix of retail and office space on the ground floor.
Perhaps the most noticeable transformation to passers-by is the change of the former Jami’s Crafts/Ben Franklin building from not-so-noticeable taupe to royal blue. Ryan Weinbrenner and Aaron Shaver, owners of Zwei Bruder Development, are renovating that two-story, former three-storefront structure into housing and retail space. The building will have four market-rate apartments upstairs, King said.
North Jefferson Street was closed this week as workers make repairs to the building occupied by Walldorff Brewpub and Bistro. Temporary repairs were made after a windstorm loosened bricks in March 2017. Permanent repairs are being made to the cornice, King said.
A dumpster blocked the alley behind Second Hand Corners. The work is a sign of a new infusion of business activity in the historic core of the city. And King, who’s been the community development director for a year and a half, couldn’t be happier.
“That’s all just the downtown,” he said, adding that the city has received letters of interest from two entities for the former Moose site on Michigan and Apple Street, and plans are progressing on transformation of the former Royal Coach factory into housing.
“It's huge for Hastings to have an $18 million project,” he said of the latter, adding that all of that is on top of the improvements in Hastings school facilities and $13 million improvements at Spectrum Health Pennock for a surgical center.
He’s thrilled with all the economic development and new housing in the city.
“We haven’t had that in 20 years -- maybe longer,” King said.