Lexington Village Theatre, Lexington, Michigan

Reopening brings Lexington block back to life

Reopening brings Lexington block back to life

By Margaret Whitmer, Sanilac County News.
Photo by Margaret Whitmer
Re-printed by permission of the Sanilac County News.


Harborview Plaza is expected to reopen by early to mid-May in downtown Lexington.

Summer visitors, disappointed the last two summers by the closure of the live theater, restaurants and other shops located along Huron Avenue between Washington and Dallas streets, need be disappointed no more.

Two new businesses fill the vacant shop fronts: the Celtic Ray Irish Pub & Restaurant and the Sweetwater Gourmet Deli & Bakery.

Celtic Ray is open now and features an authentic Irish pub menu and live music on weekends. It occupies the space where The Vintage Restaurant and Brewmaster’s Pub used to be.

Sweetwater Deli is in the location of the former Smackwater Jack’s Bistro and Deli and is expected to be open by early to mid-May. The space has been expanded by 40-50 percent to include even more tables for patrons.

And it is hoped that the Lexington Village Theatre will open with performances by local talent Memorial Day weekend, said Mike Kettlewell who, with wife Lanae, is the new owner of the block-long complex formerly known as the Smackwater Block.

The Kettlewells say they are currently updating the popular theater’s sound system and plan to showcase all types of music there.

“We’re open to ideas from the community,” said Lanae.

Adds Mike: “We want it to be community friendly. The community has been very positive. They want to support us.”

The theater and two new businesses, along with Studio Hair Design, which has been located on the block for some time, will fill all the ground floor shops and complete Phase I of the Kettlewell’s plan to bring the block back to life.

“Now we’re working on Phase Two – figuring out what to do with the upstairs,” Mike said.

The Kettlewells are natives to the area and both graduated from Croswell-Lexington High School. Mike is a partner of a Lansing area construction company; Lanae is the retired owner of Water’s Edge Salon & Spa on Main Street.

They own a summer cottage within viewing distance of the picturesque mall of shops that previously drew so many Lexington visitors.

The mall went into receivership and was bought by Eastern Michigan Bank in a foreclosure sale in 2012.

“We sat on our front porch for a year and a half saying, ‘Someone should buy that building,'” Mike said.

In June 2013, they bought the building and set up Lanmik, LLC as the umbrella company for the theater and businesses on the block, with the exception of the beauty parlor.

Ever since, they have been busy painting, installing new windows and upgrading the plumbing and electrical systems.

“It was a shame it was sitting there empty,” Mike said. “It was such an iconic part of the town.”

Lexington Village Theatre, Lexington, Michigan

Smack dab in middle of town Cottagers purchase Smackwater

Smack dab in middle of town Cottagers purchase Smackwater

By Liz Shepard and Beth LeBlanc, Times Herald

LEXINGTON – Mike Kettlewell and his wife, Lanae, have spent quality time at their cottage in Lexington over the years.

Originally from the Croswell-Lexington area, the Dewitt couple enjoy being in the village.

But the view from the front porch of their cottage changed about a year ago when the Smackwater Block, 7318 Huron Ave., closed after going into receivership in December 2011.

“You get a little emotional … it is, I believe, one of the iconic buildings in Lexington and so much a part of the town; it’s sad to watch it sit empty,” Mike Kettlewell said.

So, the couple bought it under the name LLC Harborview Investments. The deal was official Monday.

Kettlewell didn’t reveal the purchase price.

“Initially, I’d just like to get it back into tiptop condition, I’m waiting on a liquor permit … which is key to the bar and restaurant area for sure,” he said.

Exactly what will come to the nearly 38,000-square-foot building is not clear.

“Under our ownership, our intent is to lease out most of the space, if not all the space,” Kettlewell said. “Hopefully it will turn out to be a good thing for the town and a fair investment for us.”

He said he is open to ideas about what should be in the building.

The building was previously owned by Adam Buschbacher and housed The Smackwater Grille, Brewmaster’s Pub and The Tap Room. It also housed Gallery 7318, Huron Avenue Gourmet Marketplace and the Lexington Music and Theatre Co.

Kristi Hazard, administrator for the Lexington DDA, said the purchase of the Smackwater building will benefit Lexington residents.

“It means opportunity,” she said. “I think it means activity and kind of removing a dark cloud over the village.”

Hazard estimated the building had been closed since early 2012. She said she was pleased the buyers were local.

“We’re happy that some locals bought it because they understand the village,” she said.

Hazard said the DDA plans to provide marketing help to Kettlewell when his plans for the building are known, so tourists and residents are aware of its reopening.

Village Manager Tom Raymond began working in Lexington in March after the building had been closed, but he said the importance of the structure was evident.

“Any time you go from vacant to occupied is good for the village,” Raymond said.

He also was happy the new owners were local.

“They know what’s been tried there and know the flavor of the area,” he said.

“They may come in with realistic expectations of what the community can support for them.”

Contact Liz Shepard at (810) 989-6273 or lshepard@gannett.com. Follow her on Twitter @lvshepard

This article is credited to Liz Shepard and the Times Heraldwww.thetimesherald.com

Reprinted by permission of the Times Herald.