Tentative plans call for an “open-market” concept spread over six city lots that include a barn-type structure where farmers can sell their goods, community center, residential development and incubator spaces for startups. Courtesy GreenRidge Realty Inc.
Dean Weaver “fell in love” with Montague after vacationing there with his family for the first time, and with a desire to watch the community grow, the residential and commercial real estate developer unveiled plans to bring a host of mixed uses to the area.
Weaver said he was first introduced to the area eight years ago when he was tasked with planning the family vacation.
“Typical of my nature, I was late in doing that,” he said. “I found a place in Lost Valley. I had never heard of Montague in my life.”
Many of Weaver’s friends and family hadn’t heard of Montague either, he found out. Located in Muskegon County, the city is home to just over 2,000 people, as of the 2010 U.S. Census. But Weaver insisted the small lakeside community was ripe for potential.
“I just think it’s a great community and great people … beautiful water, beautiful beaches,” he said.
Weaver brings experience as a developer behind residential complexes in his own community of downtown Rochester, as well as commercial projects in Metamora. His vision for Montague is a “lakeside city center” on the six-and-a-half lots he purchased at 8700 Ferry St.
The tentative plans call for an “open market” within a barn-type structure where farmers can sell produce, a community center with seating and a fire pit, a three-story residential development, a small theater, build-to-suits for large businesses, and incubator spaces for small businesses and startups.
“I want the opportunity for a person or a mom-and-pop local shop to try something and start their own business,” he said.
The entire project is an $8-million-to-$8.5-million investment, part of which will be financed by Weaver’s own personal funds. He said he also would be seeking seed funding from additional sources.
Weaver said he would be putting bids out for contractors once he decides how to segment the small business spaces.
He added he would welcome any input from the community and has more potential plans following the initial development.
“I’d love to see a brewpub come to downtown Montague,” Weaver said.
The buildings’ architecture incorporates a variety of wood and brick façades with large glass windows, which Weaver said is inspired by both European and local buildings.
“I want to get some of that old-world feeling, but I want to use mixed mediums,” Weaver said. “I’m trying to make this as much an extension of the downtown but have it also be unique.”
The city of Montague already is on board with Weaver. Jeff Auch, city manager, said building permits have been approved, minus small details regarding building structure, height restrictions, façade treatment and ensuring the developments “meet the quality” of downtown.
“I think it was not only the concept the city bought into but just how it’s going to mesh with the historic downtown,” Auch said. “It’s going to change downtown in a beneficial way.”
While the plans still are being ironed out, Weaver said he plans to spend the coming winter finalizing his proposals with the city and to begin construction as early as summer 2019.
Charlie Brown, an agent at Greenridge Realty’s Montague office, is representing Weaver.
“This is an amazing thing for Montague,” Brown said. “It shows the interest of people to invest in our community.”