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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @lvshepard
This article is credited to Liz Shepard and the Times Herald. www.thetimesherald.com
Reprinted by permission of the Times Herald.