GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) - The beautification project aimed to improve the appearance of Georgetown Township will force nine businesses out of their store space.
Over the past year, the township board purchased an old church, an old school, six homes and an old pet shop building, just off of the freeway, according to Township manager Daniel Carlton.
He said the buildings were purchased with demolition plans.
The township considers the area the entrance to the community. The goal of the project is to beautify the historical area by fixing landscaping and signage to look more attractive.
The old school houses nine small businesses, many of which have month-to-month leases. The owners told 24 Hour News 8 the move will cost them.
"How can you just kick nine businesses out of a building with very little regard? It's not free to relocate," Michael Lowery of Appit All -- a phone application-building company -- said. "Lost time, lost productivity, all that adds up. When you're a small business, money is definitely important."
Lowery told 24 Hour News 8 he projects the move will cost his business about $5,000.
They've already found a new location in Hudsonville and said because of the situatuation, wouldn't consider a move back to Georgetown Township.
Mel Disselkeon has owned Steve's Barber Shop for 30 years.
"When I leave, I'll have lost business," he said. "[My customers are] not going to know where I went. It'll take two to three years for them to find me. I'll do advertising and stuff, but all that's lost business."
Disselkeon wants the Township to compensate each business $20,000 for the cost of inconvenience.
Carlton told 24 Hour News 8 the township's contractual agreement requires that the school's current owner to handle all business with the companies.
"We're hoping to do something positive for the vast majority of the community," Carlton told 24 Hour News 8. "It's hard to improve a community without it affecting people in a way that they don't care for."
The township takes ownership of the old school May 1, but plans for demolition will wait until the fall because Steve's Barber Shop's lease doesn't expire until the end of September.
The township is open for public suggestions when determining what to put in the open plot of land, Carlton said.
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