Learn to Swim – Albion Recreation Department October 2018

Albion Learn to Swim Program is a collaboration between Albion Recreation Department and Albion College Swim team.  Coach Robert Rariden leads the program with the help of eight college student instructors and three guards.  Read the full article about the Learn To Swim program in the Nov. 1, 2018 issue of The Recorder.  

Due to the low ratio of students to instructors, this is almost like private swimming lessons. The price is free.  Classes are limited to 24 students and the current session is closed for new students. Registration begins on November 8 for the next set of classes.  Learn more by visiting Albion Recreation on Facebook

The Marshall Opportunity School gym is open to young people grades 5-8 on Monday and Wednesday evenings from 6-9 pm for a $1 fee per visit.  Adults can participate on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, same time and fee.

Tai Chi class with instructor Pat Wilson attracts a wide range of participants.  Classes continue on Saturdays, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. at the Opportunity School, for a $3 fee per class.  Classes continue through Dec. 15 with no class on Thanksgiving weekend.

Giving Tuesday – 2018

We can volunteer, share our talents, and contribute financial resources to our community in many ways. Details of the Giving Issue photo art will be posted online including these topics:  #GivingTuesday

What is Giving Tuesday?

We know about

  • Black Friday
  • Small Business Saturday
  • Cyber Monday

Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to the commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season (Black Friday and Cyber Monday).

But what is Giving Tuesday in Albion?  The Giving Tuesday woven heart logo is remodeled here with Albion events and opportunities that were made possible by gifts large and small.

General Guide – Issue XXXIII is the Giving Edition, which is sponsored by Albion Community Foundation.

The topics here will be covered with more photos and posts in the coming month.  Starting at the left and moving clockwise are:

A Community Celebration hosted by ARC

As published in The Recorder

Big Albion Plan to Revitalize Downtown Brought to the Public

A few dozen people gathered in the old Sanders Building for a “Community Celebration” that was more like an unveiling party.  It was a coming together of people who have been working quietly for a few years to acquire resources and Albion real estate, with another group of people who were curious to find out what is going on with the empty buildings downtown and who is doing it.

“I am interested in the stores, and curious.  Glad someone has taken an interest.  Things can only go up. I wish them the best,” stated Jim Dean, owner of Yesterday’s News Antique Store, and former writer for the Battle Creek Enquirer.

“I don’t know yet,” commented Sue Ott, owner of Jolly Green Junction, “I want to find out. Even though I live in a township and not the city, I am still interested.”

 “It’s nice a group has gotten together.  Hope it will help both the City and the Townships,” shared Barbara Frederick, a former Calhoun County Commissioner. “I remember when Albion had downtown businesses.”

Those who were in the know included Mayor Garrett Brown, who said about the eight architectural drawings that were on large panels around the room, “When we can see the vision, it’s easier to accomplish it.  I knew about it and this was the soonest we could share the vision.”

A brief presentation was given by three individuals, two were from Albion, and one was an outside consultant who has helped several Michigan cities to work with the State of Michigan and other governmental organizations to gain permits and help secure additional funding for revitalization projects.  The three speakers were Bill Dobbins, president and CEO of Caster Concepts Inc., Amy Deprez, President and CEO of Albion Economic Development Corporation and Bruce Johnston, co-owner of Revitalize LLC, Mason, Michigan.

Many people had been wondering why secrecy was needed with the purchasing of downtown Albion real estate.  Bill Dobbins, explained the reasoning of the method of operating during the “quiet phase.”

“The process started five years ago; it was a winding road.”  He shared that for successful purchasing of large blocks of an area to be developed, it works best if a high percentage of real estate is owned by a smaller group with the means, along with public funds, to complete the development in one fell swoop.

He explained there was interest in downtown by several individuals including himself, and his wife Karen, both 1974 graduates of Albion College, and other investors with ties to the college.  One of the organizations involved with the real estate purchasing is a public charity with the acronym A.R.C., for Albion Reinvestment Corporation, a community envisioning entity. “We accumulated $800,000 of real estate, a bunch of old buildings that want TLC to be functional.”

The Executive Director of ARC, Amy Deprez then spoke about “the Big Albion Plan.”  She stated she has given this presentation many times, presumably to the city officials, state officials, and investors who are coming together to approve and finance the master plan.  Deprez spoke about the loss of the city’s tax base in downtown Albion, and a few highlights including Kids ‘N’ Stuff, Bohm Theatre renovation, Stirling Books and Brew, Albion Malleable Brewery Company, and the Peabody Project.  She mentioned that a typical downtown redevelopment project might take 10-15 years by doing projects like these one at a time, but an opportunity arose to do them all at one time with the controlled acquisitions. The Big Albion Plan (or B.A.P.) was written last year with an anticipated 2-3 year time frame.  “It is special,” she said about sharing the architectural renderings with the public.  “A pretty picture gives us the money.”  The group is in the process of getting more detailed estimates for each project, that will be completed and funded separately, although all at the same time.

She pointed out that some of the architectural boards had the name “ARC” on them, but others carried the term “ACE” on them.  She explained that three groups are coordinating the financing for the BAP efforts, one being ARC, the non-profit previously mentioned, the other being A.C.E. Investment Properties, owned by Bill Dobbins and the agency building the Peabody Project.  The third investor is Albion College, which will have two or three entities downtown, including the Ludington Center, which opened in January 2017.

She went on to say, the goals of the Big Albion Plan are to renovate 29 storefronts into “white-box” condition, create 40 one-bedroom apartments, and 12 two-bedroom apartments with a range of rent structures. Deprez explained that the process is starting with the brewery and Peabody Place, with many people interested who are investing the time and resources to make this happen. The next step is to get more funding secured, and a funding expert, Bruce Johnston, was enlisted to better connect the Albion community to resources at the state level.

Bill Dobbins then spoke to introduce Bruce Johnston, but also explained some of the factors that are taken into consideration for successful downtown revitalization.  He said working with Vicki Baker, professor of Economics at Albion College, along with her students, they developed a list of indicators for a healthy downtown, including a concentration of between 3-5% of the city’s population occupying downtown apartments. Dobbins said this could be up to 400 people ideally, but with the completion of the Big Albion Plan project, the number may be closer to 200 people living within an easy walking distance of downtown.  He estimated that at this time there are between 20-25 people living downtown.

Dobbins went on to share that Albion College’s Economic students reported that communities build from the downtown out and that Albion had to start somewhere with rebuilding.  He stated that the Big Albion Plan would restore the city from the “ills of the past” and revitalize them “for the next 150 years.”  This statement brought the most considerable applause of the evening.   

Bruce Johnston shared that he started to work in Albion with the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, the group that prepared the funding and location for the new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.

“This is the only time in the state I’ve ever seen people with the wherewithal enough to do something about it,” stated Bruce Johnston, the consultant who is working with the Big Albion Plan in speaking of the overall funding compared to the scope of the downtown revitalization project.  “It will look like Albion did back in the 20’s, the 30’s and the 40’s.”  He said the state has stepped up with financial incentives, due to the local support.  He said similar projects did not work in Detroit or Grand Rapids due to too many owners. He also explained that no one would be getting rich off of the projects, there will be no “killing to be made, that people in the community want it to be successful. No one is looking to flip the properties.”

Johnston explained that estimators are now working on each of the projects and the budgets will be complete by the end of the year. The work would include the backs of the buildings and restoring all the brickwork.

The cohesive downtown project will have an overall budget of about $20 million dollars, but each project will be funded separately and completed individually, yet at the same time. The lead person of the project is Amy Deprez, CEO of Albion EDC.

The literature at the event included a description of two projects slated to be complete next year, by December 2019.

The first new project listed for completion in 2019 are the “Superior Street Lofts” at the corner of S. Superior and Erie Street.  This is the old Sander’s Furniture Building and the location of the meeting itself.   The plan states “ARC is actively recruiting a national brand franchise hardware store for the first-floor commercial space. The upper two floors allow for twelve one-and-two-bedroom loft-style apartments. The building serves as an anchor for downtown and completion of this project will add significant value to our downtown.”

The second new project listed is for Superior Mercantile Co., located at 217 South Superior.  This is where the old FedCo building was located, across from the new hotel.

The plan calls this “a fresh, upscale and vibrant market for visitors and locals alike. Specializing in packaged liquor, boutique wines, craft beers, artisan sandwiches, and salads and much more, this space will create a “foodie” destination for people near and far.”

Background information:

The A.R.C. non-profit organization shows the members include Bill Dobbins, President, and Dr. Sam Shaheen, developer of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, Vice President.

The term “white box” in this article refers to a commercial space with the basic four walls, a finished or unfinished ceiling and limited lighting and floor covering. Space does not include any particular buildout that a tenant may need. Any buildout is negotiable as to who is going to pay for it and as to how it is done.

A grey box is more simple than a white box, sometimes without doors or windows, just walls and a roof.


There are two slideshows  below that show actual photos compared to the renderings.  Use navigation buttons below each slideshow.  More photos and history coming soon.

Slideshow 1

109 W Erie St Albion

Above is the rendering for 109 W Erie Street


This photo shows the location as being the site of the old Dr. Richard’s Office, next door to the St. James Episcopal Church.


Slideshow 2

404 S. Superior St. Albion Big Plan

This is a rendering of 404 – 414 S. Superior Street, Albion Michigan.

This photo shows the block as is it today.  On the far left is Albion Malleable Brewing company.   Over the years this block was the home of Brown’s New and Used, Tuthill’s Jewelry, PayDay Loans Check Cashing, H&R Block, Pure Albion, Brick Street Marketing, and The Office.  On the far right in the next block down, Parks’ Drugs can be seen and one edge of the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel.  This is the west side of Superior  Street.


During the brief remarks at the Community Celebration, it was explained that three groups had purchased the real estate shown in the displays.  They are in the process of gathering the funds needed for the renovations.  Input is being sought.  For more information about the first group, Albion Reinvestment Corporation (ARC), a public charity, visit albionreinvests.org or see them on facebook  at https://www.facebook.com/AlbionReinvests/   Donations are welcome.


The other investor groups mentioned at the meeting were Albion College (including the Ludington Center) and ACE – Albion Investment Properties.

The federal opportunity zone program that Albion was recently qualified for offers the potential for directing new and significant capital investment to some of the country’s areas in need of development. It has been referred to as “the next big thing in economic development that could usher in the greatest transfer of wealth this country has seen in decades.” Learn about the newly announced Federal Opportunity Zone Law: https://www.federalopportunityzonelaw.com/


New York Public Theatre brings Sweat to Albion

There was a good sized crowd for the October 9, 2018 performance of the Pulitzer Prize winning performance of Sweat in Albion, Michigan
The performers were from New York Public Theatre and the show was made possible with grants from the Ford Foundation and the Mellon Foundation.
Albion was one of 20 locations chosen for the national tour, due to its status as a post industrial town, the theme of the show.
Albion's story is not unique, but the feelings are personal and run deep.
More information about the performance and the discussion afterward that gave the community members a chance to share their feelings of sadness and coming together.

Read more about the Pulitzer Prize winning performance “Sweat” that came to Albion with some of these same actors. https://publictheater.org/Tickets/Calendar/PlayDetailsCollection/16-17/Sweat/

Walk the Beat Albion 2018

Download the list of bands, the map, and see the google map here.
Learn about other music events in Albion. Click on the sidebar to see which band is playing where.

Here is a link to the map above that has the bands listed:

Here is a PRINTABLE MAP with the band locations with numbers that matches the next list of bands.

Here is a list of the Venues with numbers that match the map and shows the bands that are playing:

Here is a list of the bands that shows their locations by name

Here is the official WalktheBeat.org/albion website.

Here is the official Walk the Beat Albion Facebook page.

Here is the Albion College Homecoming page.

Stop by later to see photos of the event!

Festival of the Forks 2018 – the Food


The turn out for the Festival of the Forks 2018 in Albion was large compared to recent years.  People wanted to see the new brick streets (that took TWO YEARS to finish, they wanted to see the new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel, the new Albion Malleable Brewing Co., but the biggest attraction for the Festival of the Forks is, ironically, food.  Even though the Forks that are mentioned in the name “Festival of the Forks”  do not refer to eating at all.
Below we offer a few photos of the fine ethnic cuisine that is offered at the Festival of the Forks.

The Morning Parade – Festival 2018

The morning of Saturday, September 22, 2018 was clear and cool, a welcome change from the previous weekend that was warm and sticky.  The turn out for the Festival was phenomenal, with the added attraction of reunions for  Albion High School, a movie at the Bohm Theatre that had a story based in Marshall (the House with a  Clock in the its Walls), and freshly redone brick streets.  

You can click on an image below to see a larger view but will need to use the back button to return to this page.

See Festival 2018 Food by clicking here.

Festival music coming soon

Completed Bricks in Albion September 2018

Superior Street in Albion Michigan is looking good after a brick replacement process that lasted through the summers of 2017 and 2018.  The bricks and new businesses will be ready for the Festival of the Forks, the weekend of September 22, 2018.

Albion River Trail

The annual walk takes place on Labor Day 2018, at 10 a.m.  Meet in Victory Park near the River Trail sign.  This walk is handicap access friendly.  Dogs on leashes are also invited, but please bring a cleanup bag.  There are options to park and carpool at the far end of the walk by Harris Field.  Meet there at about 9:40 a.m. and carpool back to the starting point.  People often share rides back to make it easier for everyone to participate.

If it’s raining bring an umbrella.  We’ll walk unless there is a weather warning.  We’ll have bottles of water for walkers.  There will be bathrooms open at the parks along the way.

See the 2018 Labor Day River Walk event on Facebook to see who is interested or planning to attend by clicking here

See a map of the walk including points of interest along the way:

See information about History Hill at Holland Park that is an option for the walk back.  Adds about 10 minutes.

See the 2017 Albion River Trail Walk page.

See the 2016 Albion River Trail Walk page.

See information about the North Country Trail that includes the Albion River Trail but extends over 2,000 miles.

See the Albion River Trail brochure  (no motorized vehicles please.)