(12/07/12) - It's being called the East End District - but those involved with the project say it will bring positive change for all of Midland.
We got a look at the first tenants of Midland's newest development project on Friday.
This was supposed to be a groundbreaking ceremony, but construction crews have been taking advantage of the mild weather for the last three weeks.
"This good weather in December, we are hitting it pretty hard," said Pat Gillespie of The Gillespie Group.
Gone is the old McKay Press building, across the street from the Dow Diamond. And now work has started on a four story, $46 million block-long building that is expected to spur more development in Midland. The two Lansing firms behind the project are the Gillespie Group and Caddis Development.
"It's not only going to change this little area, it's going to be infectious. It's going to spread to the other parts and that's the reason we are doing this," said Kevin McGraw of Caddis Development.
"Right now we anticipate that there are 800 people that work in downtown Midland. This building alone will have 650 to 700 new workers," Gillespie said.
The building's first two tenants have been announced are Chemical Bank and Mid-Michigan Medical Center.
"For us at the hospital, it really helps us because as we are recruiting physicians and we bring them and they look at our community here, everyone is amazed how great this is," said Greg Rogers of the Mid-Michigan Medical Center.
More tenants are being lined up.
"A fitness center is coming in, there's probably a coffee shop, a couple we are talking to right now, a couple of restaurants that are coming in, higher end," McGraw said.
The building should be open by May 2014, and with the Dow Diamond, Midland's downtown will have a much different look than it did six years. One can only wonder, 'what's next?'
"There will be a lot of momentum, and the key will be how do you take advantage of that momentum, and how can you take this kind of investment and leverage it for additional improvement for the future," said Jon Lynch, Midland City Manager.
The project is also creating 500 construction jobs.
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