(10/22/12) - A little bit of Hollywood came to Saginaw Monday.
Not in the form of a movie, but in the form of an investor who wanted to help his hometown, and save a building from the wrecking ball. The investment gives the Westside of Saginaw some new apartments and some new life.
Outside of the old building in Saginaw, there was a ribbon cutting ceremony, with a little Hollywood thrown in by investor David Strouse - who talked about the people who will live here.
"We'll share their celebrations, friendships, heartbreaks, successes, and setbacks together, and they will pay their rent on time," Strouse said.
Strouse is a 1973 graduate of Arthur Hill High School and now works for a television executive in Hollywood, but Saginaw is still home.
"I've always kept an apartment here ... and my family is here, my parents are here," he said.
With his parents watching, Strouse opened the Hamilton Street Apartments, which are in much better shape than they were four years ago when Strouse bought the building.
"Of course it was a challenge, it was a mess, it was close to a tear down. It was heartbreaking," he said.
Nearly $700,000 later, there are now nine apartments on the top two floors of the building, designed by a Los Angeles architect.
"We had 42 leaking windows. How can three commercial spaces downstairs repair 42 leaking windows and a roof? No, you have to rehabilitate the space, generate income of the space and then you can rehabilitate it," Strouse said.
"Housing down here is typically not new housing. It's old and probably a lot of it may not be up to code," said Lara Yockey, who works for Chemical Bank, which helped finance the project. "We wanted to help businesses in this area, in low to moderate income areas, that are sometimes under-served by the banking community."
"I just hope it's a tipping point," said Denny Whalen. Whalen owns The Stable, just down Hamilton Street. He believes this will bring more people in the part of Saginaw that many refer to as 'Old Town.' He has his own apartment in the area, and says Strouse will have no trouble getting tenants.
"When I put a sign in the door, I've got three or four people wanting to rent that apartment, the demand is there," Whalen said.
Strouse already has four tenants signed up to live in the apartments.
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