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The re-urbanization of Benton Harbor

A re-urbanization movement is happening in downtown Benton Harbor. A couple of investors have decided to renovate old or abandoned buildings into high-end living spaces.

Winn Wolf bought the Vincent Building on Main Street in 1989, and now he is building six apartment units on one of the floors.

Wolf said, “I don't think there's any vacancy right now in the downtown area right now with the apartments. There seems to be a waiting list at most of them.”

Wolf said there's an increase in demand for urban living because places like the Art District in Benton Harbor have bars and restaurants that people come to town to see.

Wolf said, “There was a day, back in the late 80s that if you lived in St. Joe you wouldn't even venture down to here, definitely not at night because it was mostly abandoned building properties.”

Now those abandoned properties are being bought up and turned into high-end living spaces. A couple blocks down the road, Peter Colovos and the Prairie Real Estate Group have developed lofts and they are adding office space. 

Colovos said, “We've been very successful, we've had a lot of fun with it. We believe that our tenants have a very high degree of comfort and quality of life.”

When you walk into the Saranac Flats, you see unique bike racks, frames of wood from historic Benton Harbor homes, and even a work out room.  

Colovos said, “We've got great stock, we've got great diversity, we've got great human spirit, an element that allows us to think about the future.”

Colovos said he also bought the building next door and the building across the street for future developments.

The President of the Downtown Development Authority said the future is very bright for Benton Harbor.

Bryan Tutton said, “If you check out many of the buildings on Main Street, the same things happening to several of them. The main floor is being redeveloped, it will be commercial space, and the upper floors will be residential areas.”

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