Investors plan to revitalize F.C. Mason building

FCM Development, a group of investors headed by Ken Harris, is currently outlining a plan for revitalizing a Saint Johns landmark, the F.C. Mason building. Most recently Harris is credited with restoring the old St. Johns Furniture store on Clinton Ave. and making it into a hotel.

This historic piece of property, the F. C. Mason building, located one block off Clinton Ave. in downtown Saint Johns, started life as a grist saw mill. It has served as a planning mill, lumber mill, flour mill, and manufactured natural gas plant. The red brick structure that sits at the corner of Railroad and Spring Streets was built in 1898. Since 1908 it has housed the FC Mason Company, a manufacturer of farming implements.

The building has been sitting neglected and deteriorating, gradually losing the charm and character it was built with. Currently the property is under contract with FCM Development whose sole aim is to breathe new life into this building. The FCM Development group says they are dedicated to saving historic buildings by re-purposing them to meet the needs of the current times. They would like to design a development project that serves the needs of the community while also being a cost effective business venture.

Group spokesman Ken Harris says, “We see the historic brick building as best suited to residential housing, and one of the outbuildings as ranch style apartments. Other add-on structures are too deteriorated and will need to be demolished. We will save what can be saved and re-purpose what is salvageable. Certainly some of the area will have to be used as parking for the residential housing. We are currently working with the City on a development plan.”

The group has gone to great expense over the last two months, and the site has undergone Phase 1 and Phase 2 environmental evaluations. They have also completed a BEA study performed by the Triterra Environmental Company.

The site was bored in 17 places in all buildings and open ground areas. The experts at Triterra drilled bore holes, some of which were 25’ deep, taking incremental soil samples in order to test for contaminants. These samples were sent to specialized environmental labs for testing. The site was also evaluated for other contaminants like asbestos and lead paint.

It is true the North East corner has some contamination issues, and Consumers Energy will be taking steps to clean up that area. The main building had very few issues, and they can all be remediated. Most of the original brick building was used for offices and storage of finished agricultural parts.

The group says that they are committed to cleaning up this site the right way. All DEQ standards are being met to ensure that this site will be safe.

To get real, yes this site will be more costly to redevelop than other uncontaminated locations. But investors believe it must be done to prevent further deterioration of such a historic building and to remove the blight of this abandoned building on the rest of Downtown Saint Johns. They are asking the City to help alleviate the costs of the clean up by providing property tax abatements, similar to the ones granted recently to the Senior housing project (the Castle). They are also working with local and State officials to take advantage of the State of Michigan’s Brownsfield program, which also helps to offset the costs of cleaning up abandoned buildings.

St. Joseph School celebrates March is Reading Month

Thank you to Nana Shelle, Queen of the Teapots, for helping St. Joseph School Kindergarten and Begindergarten celebrate Reading Month with stories, cookies, and crowns.

Student Of The Month For Science

SJHS Principal Mark Palmer, Amy Crites, Anna Crites, Club 707 President Katie Eccleton, SJHS teacher Richard Lund

Anna Crites was awarded the Student of the Month for Science at the March 1st meeting of the St. Johns Exchange Club. She is a junior at St. Johns High School and is part of the Science Olympiad team. She was also part of the hover craft engineering team. She called being part of that team challenging but fun.

Besides being interested in science, Anna also participates in Dressage at SJHS which is a form of skilled horse riding in competitions and exhibitions.

A Look Back – Senior Check Contest

by Barry Clark Bauer

The Lady on the left is unidentified and that’s Brandon White on the right.

This was a photo promoting the bank’s Senior Citizens Check Contest winners. I haven’t found anymore information on it.

Brandon was a bank officer at both Central National Bank and Clinton National Bank & Trust.