City throttles down on downtown marketplace concept

It’s back to the drawing board for a long vacant downtown Port Huron building. Port Huron City Manager James Freed says he will not be moving forward as planned on an ambitious downtown marketplace project at the former Art Van Building. Conceptual designs released in October called for the city to spend a minimum of $2.7 million dollars on the building, transforming it into a four season farmers market. However, since the recent announcement of privately owned grocery store moving downtown, Freed says the Art Van project will need to re-tool. “We don’t want to build another money loosing facility,” said Freed. The city manager suggested that the site could be used for a mixed-use development, which would include both retail and housing.  The parcel of property is currently owned by St. Clair County, when asked about negotiation talks with the county, Freed said, “They’ll (county board) get on board, or they’ll be drug on board.” It was announced last month that business-owners Steve Fernandez and Michelle Jones purchased the Country Style Marketplace in Fort Gratiot with intentions to bring the grocery store to the former Woolworth’s Building at Huron and Grand River Avenues.