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DeWitt : Development News

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Restaurateur buys landmark Terranova's Market, hires four local staff

Faez Toma woke up one morning and knew he needed a change. He was ready, he said, to get out of the "rat race" and to pursue a different path in the restaurant biz. Something, he said, was right around the corner.
 
Toma found that change in Terranova's Market. And while nearly two hours up the freeway from Toma's home in Farmington Hills, the small grocery store in DeWitt was Toma's dream come true.
 
"I knew when I walked in that bingo—this was it," says Toma, who jokingly credits his childhood nickname "Fonz" for fueling his quest for a simpler life. "It was the little market in the little town I was looking for."
 
Toma purchased the 2,500 square foot store at 129 S. Bridge St. in December. He kept the moniker of the landmark store, and went about making incremental changes while retaining Terranova's small-town flair.
 
"I knew that something could be realized here with just a little bit of effort," says Toma. "The store was already a success but I knew it had even more potential."
 
Toma drew on his experience and family background in the liquor and restaurant business and expanded Terranova's spirits section to include craft beers, specialized bourbons and scotches. He also began changing up the grocery aisles to accommodate specialty items from small distributors.
 
"You can go anywhere and get a can of chicken noodle soup," says Toma. "Sure, I'll carry that, but I want my shop to be known for finding those specialized items you can't find anywhere else."
 
In January, Toma installed new double-decker ovens for making hot subs and stone-fired pizzas. He also stocks a cooler with homemade salads and sandwiches, and plans to offer more to-go foods as the store's kitchen remodel gets underway.
 
In keeping with the community, Toma hired four staff from DeWitt to help him run the market. He hopes, too, to localize his own life and cut down on his daily commute by moving his family closer sometime soon.
 
"DeWitt is a great and fantastic community," says Toma. "With me coming from a bigger city, it's refreshing to have that small-town experience."
 
Source: Faez Toma, Owner, Terranova's Market
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

St. Johns mom opens gym to get kids out of house and moving

Like a lot of moms with kids, Casie Grams was bouncing off the walls when snow, ice and freezing temperatures kept her family confined to the great indoors.
 
In January, Grams decided to take that pent-up energy elsewhere and opened PowerPlay Kids Fun & Fitness in St. Johns for kids ages 10 months through fifth grade.
 
"I see it giving children an outlet aside from being stuck at home inside," says Grams who has three children under 12. "Everything here is designed to build confidence. It's a non-competitive environment and meant to be fun."
 
The 1,600-square foot gym at 701 W. State Street is set up to accommodate a variety of activities, including gymnastics, indoor soccer, hockey, basketball, tennis, relays, playground games and more. Grams herself oversaw the light remodeling of the previous sports retail store, including laying new carpet, painting and making it "kid friendly" by bringing in equipment that includes a 25-foot Air Trak, balance beam, tumbling mats, gymnastics bars and stationary bikes.
 
"I also have a variety of other things like hula-hoops," say Grams whose background and certification is in gymnastics. "Every week we'll have a different theme."
 
PowerPlay offers several five-week classes that are set up according to ages, grades and siblings. She also offers a boys-only class and open gym twice a week. Parent participation is required for children 3 ½ or under.
 
"Eventually, I hope to expand and offer more classes," says Grams who runs the classes with the help of her mother and her nephew. "I just wanted to start somewhere."
 
In addition to 20 different classes and open gym, PowerPlay offers parent's night out, birthday parties and camps.
 
"It's an outlet," says Grams. "It's something fun to do and can help combat obesity. My goal is to just encourage a healthy lifestyle for kids."
 
Source: Casie Grams, Owner, PowerPlay Kids Fun & Fitness
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

Craft & Mason spills the beans on single-source fresh coffee

Jeremy Mason was never much of a coffee drinker until he came upon an espresso place that sourced beans from local farmers. From then on, he was hooked.
 
"When I find something I like, I look at it from as many angles as I can," says the co-owner of Craft & Mason Roasting Company, a brand new micro roaster in Lansing. "I started visiting coffee shops that used small roasters and checked out direct trade arrangements for ordering green beans."
 
Mason bought his first beans from Sweet Maria's—a home-roasting site that sources beans directly from small farmers. He did his first roasts in a popcorn popper, and when he shared a cup with his friend, Eric Craft, they decided to brew up something bigger.
 
The two friends purchased several hundred pounds of beans, bought a small roaster, and launched Craft & Mason in a 500-square-foot warehouse. Since December 2013, the two have roasted once a week, filling orders for local restaurants, coffee shops and individuals.
 
"We feel coffee tastes best when it's fresh," says Mason, who sells online direct and ships within one to two days. "If you can drink coffee within the first two weeks of its roast, it's the best."
 
Mason believes that enjoying coffee that's fresh roasted from a single origin can be as unique as eating food from a great local farm. His goal, he says, is to honor small coffee farmers by finding the optimal spot in each roast that maximizes the complex flavors of the beans.
 
"It's a little bit like wine," says Mason of the varieties he sources from El Salvador, Columbia and Sumatra. "All the questions you might ask of a cabernet or pinot wine, you could apply to coffee."
 
Source: Jeremy Mason, Co-owner, Craft & Mason Roasting Company
Writer: Ann Kammerer, Development News Editor

CrossFit Malleus opens in 2,500 sq ft DeWitt space

A new business has brought a new kind of workout to DeWitt. CrossFit Malleus opened on June 17, offering the unique group training style exercise in a 2,500 square foot facility on E. Clark Rd.
 
CrossFit is in fact what brought owner Brad Hillard and his partner together. Unsatisfied by their regular workouts, they both found better all-around strength training results from the format. 
 
"I'm stronger all around," says Hillard. "I feel confident to take on any physical task. Also, with a group setting you get the natural competitiveness that occurs naturally in humans to come out which in turn helps generate motivation to try your best." 
 
Hillard and his partner began renovating the CrossFit Malleus facility in May, and finished in early June. Renovations included demolition, ceilings and flooring. They plan to get involved with the communities through local events and helping, and hope their presence in the Clark Corners will attract others to the development. 

Source: Brad Hillard, CrossFit Malleus
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Family ice cream business connects with community in Dewitt

The Dalman family has long had a dream of running an ice cream shop, and now that plan has come to fruition in their hometown of Dewitt with iScream. The new 1,000 square foot shop serves ice cream, soft serve and low-calorie, high-vitamin smoothies. 
 
"We are in the center of Dewitt," says Max Dalman, who manages the store owned by his parents. "We're right by the schools, and are tons of neighborhoods over here." 
 
The Dalmans have been working on iScream since last fall, and the ice scream shop opened about a month ago. The shop currently employs a staff of eight. Despite the snowy weather during their opening, the community has come out to support the business, and they've found themselves even busier than expected. 
 
The concept of iScream includes reciprocating that community support. The Dalmans also have a smoothie booth that they bring to local events to offer smoothies to attendees. The organization running the event receives a portion of the proceeds of every smoothie sold. 
 
"We're in it for the fun," says Dalman. "We're trying to keep prices as low as we can and offer the best we can to the community."

Source: Max Dalman, iScream
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Great Lakes Family Dental opens new, 3,300 sq ft DeWitt Twp location

Great Lakes Family Dental did more than simply double its footprint when it expanded into a new, 3,300 square foot building in DeWitt Twp on January 1. From new dental services to a new community outreach program, the practice has grown in all sorts of ways. 
 
"We outgrew our space," says Patricia Hart, general manager of Great Lakes Dental Group. "It was outdated."
 
Growth has been the name of the game for Great Lakes Dental Group since it purchased retiring local dentist Dr. Tomkie's practice, which had been in business for 30 years. Under new ownership, the practice grew by three employees, and now plans to add two additional staff members in the new office. 
 
"Moving out of that space allowed us to do more," says Hart. "It's pretty homey. It's meant to take away from being hit with that feeling of being nervous to be at the dentist." 
 
Great Lakes Dental Group broke ground on the new building in mid-August of 2012. Since moving into the new location in January, the practice now offers such new services as digital x-rays, free cancer screenings and new teeth whitening techniques. 
 
In addition, the growing office is offering a free dental clinic on April 16 for those without dental insurance or other assistance. 
 

Source: Patricia Hart, Great Lakes Dental Group
Writer: Natalie Burg, Development News Editor

Chelsea Lumber opens new digital project center in Dewitt, adds five jobs

The digital age is changing the way people shop, and that’s not limited to clothes and books. The century-old family business Chelsea Lumber is now using digital technology to extend their reach with a new showroom in Dewitt.
 
“Everything is done with digital imaging, so people come in a select colors and samples,” says John Sabin of Chelsea Lumber’s new Dewitt project center. “We’re open to the public, and they can order lumber, and we can deliver right out of the central hub in Chelsea.” 
 
According to Sabin, the new 800 square foot project center is the first of its kind in the area. The project center currently operates on limited hours and by appointment, but Sabin says he hopes to expand into regular hours soon. Five jobs, including sales and a kitchen and bath specialist, have been added with the new office. 
 
“People are Internet shoppers now,” says Sabin. “They work and they’re busy, so they can come in and do it at the office here, or from their homes. It helps a lot for us to be able to say to people, ‘Hey here’s what you’re looking for, and we’ve got it.’” 
 
The Chelsea Lumber project center opened in Dewitt in May. The office services both residential and commercial customers with projects large and small. 
 

Historic DeWitt school to receive 9,700 sq ft addition to become senior living center, up to 15 jobs

When Dr. Tim Brannan and his partner at Brandino Properties came across the vacant Gunnisonville Elementary Building in DeWitt, they saw the potential for the site to not only return to its roots as a place of learning for children, but so much more. The developers plan to renovate the 26,000-square foot school, as well as build a 9,700-square foot assisted living facility called Gunnisonville Meadows on the same site. 
 
“For assisted living, we thought it would be an ideal setting,” says Brannan. “You’ll come right off the highway and you’re about five minutes away, and then you’re just five minutes away from Eastwood [Towne Center]. Families can come and visit and then take their senior out for dinner.”
 
Brannan was inspired to open an assisted living facility after his father was diagnosed with dementia and Alzheimer’s and he and his mother had a difficult time finding the right local facility for his care. 
 
“There really wasn’t anyone who was well versed in the issues he was having,” Brannan says. “We wanted to provide some memory care options.”
 
Gunnisonville Meadows will share a site with the Blending Learning Academies charter school and Little Scholars Preschool and Childcare Center that will soon open in the renovated school. Interaction between students and seniors is expected to add to the learning experiences for kids and life enrichment for residents. 
 
Work on the 20-bed facility will begin soon and Brannan hopes it will be open for residents by late 2012 or early 2013. He plans to employ 12 to 15 workers there. 
 

DeWitt Township home to fourth area Vision Collision

The team at Vision Collision sees themselves as more than just a new business in DeWitt; they see themselves as a new member of the community. 
 
“We’re very involved with the schools and the communities where we’re located,” says Jim Rossman, Business Development Manager for Vision Collision. “We’ve given three cars away, we’ve been involved in the Silver Bells parade and community car washes. We’ll be having a grand opening in late May, and hopefully the high school will have a team here doing a wash for their sports boosters.” 
 
The grand opening will be for the business’ fourth Lansing-area location. The 13,278 square foot DeWitt Charter Township facility is located just North of I-69 on BR-127. The building was nearly an all-new build, utilizing some walls from a former car wash on the site. It also includes an Enterprise Rent-A-Car in the front lobby.
 
Vision Collision opened on February 6 and currently employs five local workers. According to Rossman, the growing business’ success is based on superior customer service and great marketing. 
 
“We have two different people doing mobile estimating,” says Rossman. “We go to their home or office at no charge rather than them having to come us all the time. We’re willing to go to them and be more service-driven.”
 
Now that the DeWitt location is up and running, Vision Collision is looking to Grand Ledge for their next possible branch. Rossman says the businesses envisions up to a dozen Lansing-area locations. 
 

Greater Lansing's first Wireless Zone moves into 1,200 sq ft DeWitt space

Despite being the largest independent Verizon Wireless franchise in the US, the Greater Lansing area did not have a single Wireless Zone store until recently. The nationally-recognized name moved into a 1,200 square foot space in the Crossroads Center in DeWitt last month.

According to owner Michael Armstrong, choosing the location was as easy for he and his wife as looking down the street.

“We live near the store,” he says. “We picked the spot. I had to get the spot approved by Verizon and Wireless Zone.”

The new store created five local jobs and brings a variety of wireless products and services to the area. Armstrong is open to the possibility of expanding further into the Lansing area, but is now focused on his new store in the former First Bank site, the leasing of which is managed by CB Richard Ellis/Martin.

“It is a perfect building for us,” says Armstrong.

Source: Michael Armstrong, Wireless Zone

Writer: Natalie Burg, News Editor

Consumers Energy Signs 100 MW Energy Deal with Wind Turbine Manufacturer

Consumers Energy is one step closer to building its first wind energy park in the next two years.

The Jackson-based company has signed a contract with a national manufacturer to supply 56 wind turbine generators for the utility’s Lake Winds Energy Park in Mason County on the state’s western shore.

The contract calls for Vestas-American Wind Technology, Inc. to manufacture, deliver and commission the V100-1.8 MW turbine units. The total installed generation capacity of the units is 100.8 megawatts.

“Securing this agreement is a major milestone in the development of our first wind energy park and continues our commitment to environmental stewardship,” says John Russell, president and CEO of Consumers Energy.

“Consumers Energy already is the largest supplier of renewable energy in Michigan. By the end of 2012, including the addition of our Lake Winds Energy Park, about eight percent of the power that Consumers Energy supplies to its customers is expected to come from Michigan-based renewable sources.”

Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to 6.5 million of the state’s 10 million residents in the 68 counties of Michigan’s lower peninsula.

Source: Consumers Energy

Writer: Louise Knott Ahern


New 2,000 Sq. Ft. Bikeworks Bicycle Shop Opens in DeWitt Shopping Center

Bikeworks, a new bike shop, has opened in DeWitt at 13169 Schavey Rd., in the DeWitt Shopping Center. Owner Jon Vandecar opened the 2,000 sq. ft. shop on Mar. 15.

"The space was gutted, walls moved and ceiling opened up," says Vandecar. "All new lighting and display fixtures [were] custom built."

Vandecar had been in the bicycle industry for more than 20 years before deciding to open his own shop.

"The DeWitt area has always seemed like an active youthful, and family oriented community that could support a small bike shop," says Vandecar, who enjoys the diversity of bicycling. "Being in the industry this long I have moved around from every facet of the sport, from racing BMX, to extended multi-day touring and mountain biking. Your options are endless."

Bikeworks features kiosks to aid customers in their decision-making.

"I made the displays distinct from most others by using kiosks to help customers understand what each category of bike is designed for and grouped the bikes accordingly," says Vandecar.

Bikeworks features a free seminar at 7:00 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.

The new shop also stays away from the "sea of bikes" featured in other stores. "We have a great selection, it is just organized, displayed and explained easily," says Vandecar.

Source: Jon Vandecar

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan 

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


Firstbank Breaks Ground on New 2,000 Sq Ft Bank Building in Dewitt

Firstbank has began construction on a brand new building in DeWitt. Once completed, the building will be 2,000 to 2,200 sq. ft. in size. The current incarnation of the bank is located inside a rental space in a strip mall.

"The way the bank has grown," says Craig Bishop, president of Firstbank in St. Johns, where the main Firstbank office is located, "we felt comfortable in taking the next step and building a permanent home."

Between the cost of construction and land purchase, the new bank will cost $1.2 million to build. Firstbank in DeWitt currently has a staff of four and is looking for a fifth. The hope is that the new bank will be open by mid or late August.

"It will be full service," says Bishop, explaining that the new building will have drive-up services, a lobby and an ATM.

Firstbank started in St. Johns in June of 2000. "This bank [DeWitt] is part of Firstbank St. Johns," says Bishop, adding that Firstbank recently celebrated its 10th anniversary. "We hit a milestone of $100 million of business over ten years."

There are currently 53 Firstbank branches across Michigan, including Kalamazoo and Ionia.

Source: Craig Bishop

Writer: Daniel J. Hogan

2010 Means Expansion for Successful Sweetie-licious Pie Pantry in DeWitt

Ever on the move, Sweetie-licious' Linda Hundt is ready to expand her business by building out her central kitchen.

The Dewitt bakery has been recognized locally and nationally for producing outstanding pies, but is growing so quickly its existing kitchen cannot meet demand.

“We’ve definitely profited this year,” Hundt says. “I’ve added two more people and we have one shop and we don’t have enough space for storage or enough space to do mail orders.”

Hundt is deciding between two locations for the build-out and is talking with a few Hollywood production companies about starting a reality show.

“It’s exciting and I feel really good about it, but I don’t know what will happen,” she says about the show. “I’m not in a big hurry.”

Hundt has 20 employees and hopes to have the central bakery ready for production in February.

Source: Linda Hundt, Sweetie-licious

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here

All Photographs © Dave Trumpie


European Auto Facility Moves to Larger 2,300 Sq Ft Space in Dewitt Township

Scott Randall, owner of Redline Auto Services, just purchased a 2,300 square foot building in Dewitt for his growing European auto repair shop.

He’s moving his business from a 1,500 square foot 3506 N. East St. space in Lansing, which he’s been in for eight years, into a rehabbed, 2,300 square foot 16040 South US-27 space in Dewitt.

“This will give me a lot more room and an office space that I don’t have right now,” Randall says. “I haven’t had an office space since I started and I’ve really needed one.”

Randall’s new space was a gas station and repair facility that had been vacant for four years. Randall’s renovating the entire space, an effort greatly appreciated by the community.

“People are always driving by and yelling across the street or pulling into the parking lot, telling us that they like the improvement,” he says.

He bought the building in September 2008 and started the remodel in October 2008. He plans to be in the building by the end of the fall.

Redline Auto Services has four employees. Randall hopes to add at least one more employee within the next year.

Source: Scott Randall, Redline Auto Service

Ivy Hughes is the managing editor of Capital Gains and can be reached here.

16 DeWitt Articles | Page: | Show All
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