Kale, romain, arugula, Swiss chard and leaf lettuce line the produce aisle of the 10,000-square-foot Lafayette Market in downtown Pontiac. Opened in December 2012, it's the cornerstone of a $20 million redevelopment of a defunct Sears, Roebuck & Co. store into residential lofts, a cafe, rooftop deck for entertaining and an Anytime Fitness location.
"We took a risk, being a catalyst for economic development," Kyle Westberg says. He co-owns West Construction, the firm that took on the Sears building overhaul with a financial boost from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program.
"Our market became a beacon for hope and light," Westberg says. "We see amazing things happening in our cafe- business meetings, Bible study groups. Families come from miles around for healthy food."
In Pontiac, the Downtown Business Association/Main Street Board worked with the county on plans to make the Woodward Loop a two-way street that will help drivers access - instead of bypass - downtown.