Economic developers propose new plan for Cass County Courthouse
“If you’ve got something, you have to pick a point and try to move forward,” said Troy Clay, President and CEO of Mno Bmadsen, an economic development corporation in Dowagiac.
That’s the optimism one Cass County economic developer is using as motivation to get the ball rolling on the old Cass County Courthouse!! After 118 years standing and 14 years vacant, a meeting was held with the Village of Cassopolis Board of Commissioners November 2nd, and that’s where Troy Clay proposed his ideas for the old building.
“We looked at the courthouse and said, you know, we can play a part in this by helping restore this building into an enterprise,” said Clay.
An enterprise that could help boost the downtown Cassopolis area too.
“It could be offices where people are walking out of their offices for downtown amenities for lunch, it could also be entertainment venues perhaps, so things like that, we could brainstorm a lot of possibilities,” said Clay.
But a significant part of that proposal could be you. Clay plans to form a task group of professionals from the community to lend their ideas and be part of the potential change to their historical landmark.
“You want to take the time understanding and being empowered about the situation. BUTT: “We want to drive this process forward and we’re trying to build up a group of volunteer experts that will help with this, so at some point there has to be an investment,” said Clay.
The village of Cassopolis says it’s too early to know how much would come from taxpayers if the project were approved, but the old courthouse combined with the Annex attached is in need of millions of dollar’s worth of rehab.
“There are some grants that can lend themselves to some interim assessments and maybe potentials improvements to the courthouse but I’m relying a lot on this process,” said Clay.
Something clay says he and the county are preparing for.
“We’ve effectively asked the commission to let us step in and support them and so our job as an EDC. We don’t want to be at the coffee roundtable once a month, we want to strategically benefit and impact these issues in the county,” said Clay.
Based on his past experience, Clay says a project like this could take about 3 years once it is approved. The Village of Cassopolis says the Board of Commissioners could vote within the next couple of months.