Cornerstone Alliance unveils new downtown BH headquarters

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. -- Can a rebirth of downtown Benton Harbor be in the works? The team at Cornerstone Alliance hopes its new headquarters will start a trend.

“We did this because we plan on this being our home for the next 30, 40, 50 years,” said Rob Cleveland, the CEO of Cornerstone Alliance.

Along Main Street in Benton Harbor, it’s a fresh sight for sore eyes.

“When you start looking at a downtown area or any neighborhood, and you’re starting to see some decay set in, it doesn’t inspire the community,” said Greg Vaughn, the chief operating officer for Cornerstone.

Downtown Benton Harbor has seen better days.

But the Cornerstone Alliance is hoping its new headquarters on Main Street will turn a new leaf.

“The building we’re in now used to be two businesses [that had closed] that shared a common wall,” Cleveland said. “So we were able to tear out that common wall and we put offices in both sides.”

It’s a transformation long in the making.

The old State Bank building on Wall Street was Cornerstone’s home for 20 years.

Then Mosaic moved in this summer.

That led Cornerstone to a temporary building while construction was being completed.

Cleveland said the move made sense for a few reasons.

Mosaic has a greater need for the 15,000 square feet Cornerstone used to have at the Wall Street location.

The new headquarters on Main Street is more functional.

And the staff believes relocating – and repurposing – the 100-year-old building will prove it’s possible to build Benton Harbor up again.

“We have a large group of the population that is looking for walkable communities and a diverse array of things to do,” Cleveland said.

The city’s arts district continues to grow.

And signs of progress are evident.

But lifelong residents like Vaughn said this latest project is just the beginning.

“This is my home,” he said. “And I want to see this community – I don’t want to see it be what it was. I want to see it better than what it was. So we’re going to continue to work to try to make that happen.”

Vaughn said the biggest challenge they face is convincing people to invest in downtown Benton Harbor.

He said a lot of the empty buildings in the city are owned by people who are simply waiting to see what other owners will do first.

Cleveland said the new headquarters will help him recruit top talent to the area because the $750,000 renovation project shows Cornerstone is invested in making itself better.

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